Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the American Trucking Association's (ATA) request for a full panel reconsideration of the previous decision that California could continue to enforce Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) regulation. In January of 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), giving the agency the power to enforce regulations related to TRUs. The Court refused to reconsider the waiver in April of this year, but the ATA argued that the rule would in fact become a national standard since so many trucks pass through California.
Barring a U.S. Supreme Court review, this is the end of the line and litigation is over. The rule, in place since 2004, requires that TRUs equipped with diesel engines that are seven years old or older be replaced or retrofitted with newer engines. The rule applies to all TRUs that operate in California, effecting a great number of vehicles that are based in locations outside of the state. In April, the ATA joined up with the Truckload Carriers Association to request a reconsideration of the EPAs waiver. The ATA argued that the "EPA misinterpreted and unreasonably applied the statutory criteria when approving the California rule," and that the rules didn't meet "compelling and extraordinary conditions." The EPA says that this refers to "geographical and climactic conditions that, when combined with large numbers and high concentrations of automobiles, create serious air pollution problems." They point out that California has some of the worst air quality in the nation, making the rule necessary.
A compelling part of the ATA argument was that since the rule applies to all carriers that operate in California, it becomes "a de facto national rule because many trucks pass through California and will be subject to the rule." However it wasn't compelling enough for courts who have now rejected the appeal. "The California rule does not require any other state to adopt California's approach. If ATA's members operated trucks in California, they must comply while operating in California. If they do not operate in California, they need not comply," the court reported. The costs of maintaining freight transportation vehicles to these standards will run about $2,000 to $5,000 per unit. The court has argued that the phased implementation of the rule will minimize costs. CARB is now free to enforce these regulations, penalizing carriers who fail to register equipment and meet the standards of the TRU decision.