California is taking steps to prohibit the operation of older diesel trucks on its roads. A new regulation, which took effect on January 1, 2023, bans any diesel vehicle weighing over 14,000 pounds with an engine model year of 2009 or older from California roads. Implemented by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2008, the rule affects approximately 200,000 trucks and buses, including 70,000 big rigs, according to SFGate.
Exemptions will be granted to vehicles that have had their engines replaced with newer 2010 models or vehicles that travel less than 1,000 miles per year. In a recent memo, CARB stated that most fleet operators have already complied, with 1.58 million vehicles getting fitted with new post-2010 engines.
According to CARB, diesel exhaust is responsible for 70% of the cancer risk from airborne substances, but these vehicles have been subject to less stringent emissions regulations compared to passenger cars. In recent years, regulations for heavy trucks have been lagging behind those for passenger vehicles, but they are now starting to catch up. The Biden administration has strengthened EPA regulations, the first update in emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in more than 20 years, but they still fall short of California’s standards.
California has set a goal to mandate electric commercial trucks by 2045. In the meantime, the state has stricter emissions standards for new vehicles that 17 other states have adopted. These stricter standards were previously opposed by truck manufacturers, and it remains to be seen how vehicle owners will respond. Additionally, as the EPA has noted, illegal emissions tampering on diesel pickups is prevalent. If this extends to larger commercial vehicles, it could negate some of the benefits of California’s ban on older diesel powertrains.