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California to begin pilot program requiring smog testing for older diesel trucks

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California to begin pilot program requiring smog testing for older diesel trucks
Diesel-burning trucks 6 years old or older in California will soon be required to pass regular smog tests, thanks to a pilot program that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on Friday. (Courtesy: Fotosearch)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Friday that will make California the first state to require regular smog testing on heavy-duty diesel trucks and tractor-trailers.

Senate Bill 210 requires the California Air Resources Board to set up a pilot program over the next two years and after that put rules in place for truck smog checks. The pilot program will be similar to a smog testing system that’s been in place for decades requiring passenger vehicles that are six years old or older to pass a smog check every two years.

Until now, large trucks have not had such a requirement. Once the program is in place, anyone caught driving a non-gasoline vehicle weighing over 14,000 pounds without a smog certificate can be fined by law enforcement.

Reaction to the bill’s signing was greeted with mixed reactions, with some touting the bill as a long-needed step in the pursuit of improved air quality.

“Just as car owners have to get their own personal cars ‘smog checked’ every two years, so too should truck operators be required to maintain their emissions controls so that we can ensure long lasting air quality improvements here in California,” said state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, who wrote the bill.

The California Air Resources Board estimates that heavy-duty trucks operating in California account for nearly 60% of the state’s nitrogen oxides emissions — one of the main chemicals that causes smog. The board also estimates that this program could have the effect of eliminating the emissions of 145,000 trucks.

Environmentalists say the new law will reduce emissions of soot and other contaminants, which contribute to high asthma rates in California.

“This is the biggest air quality bill of this year,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air. “It’s something we have needed for years. Diesel trucks are the single biggest source of air pollution in California.”

The law also had the support of the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Sierra Club California, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other health and environmental organizations.

Opposition to the program was led by the Western States Trucking Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Cattlemen’s Association and several other industry groups.

One of the trucking industry’s arguments is that the bill was unnecessary because of other truck-engine rules that are already in place or are being phased in over the next few years.

Joe Rajkovacz, a spokesman for the Western States Trucking Association, said that the California Air Resources Board already does regular tests for smoke from trucks at weigh stations and trucking companies.

He noted that the board has also set a rule that by 2023 only trucks that are model 2010 or newer can be driven on California roads. That rule was put in place because older trucks pollute far more than newer trucks.

The trucking industry was opposed to that rule, as well, with the cost to trucking companies being the main concern. There is also concern about what this new emissions program could have, especially for smaller companies and to owner-operators.

Companies could be forced to renovate or replace outdated fleets. And while the bill caps the cost of the new required smog checks at $30, it’s just one more expense that needs to be fit into operating budgets, and they are expenses that can’t be put off.

Opponents are also concerned that the new law may allow state officials to take private data from trucking companies if the companies are required to share information stored in their trucks’ on-board computers.

The new law applies to 18-wheelers, along with delivery trucks, dump trucks, tanker trucks, farm trucks and others. The law does not include buses.

Newsom also signed a companion measure, Senate Bill 44, which will require the air resources board to study new emissions technology for medium and heavy-duty vehicles and adopt stricter standards by 2030 and 2050, respectively.

Newsom rounded out his day Friday by issuing an executive order directing state agencies to examine ways to divest from oil and gas in favor of cleaner technologies. Meanwhile, the agencies that manage California’s pension investment portfolio will work with the Newsom administration on a divestment timeline.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. William

    September 27, 2019 at 1:29 am

    It’s about time

  2. Cindy hill

    September 27, 2019 at 2:19 am

    Maybe California should only allow self driven trucks into their state and see how quick they run out of food and necessities. Picking on farmers too? Y’all should go hungry for a little while and think about that one. That is the stupidest thing I ever heard of. One more reason I hate California and love My Texas!!

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ATRI releases annual list of top 100 truck bottlenecks; Atlanta makes list 3 times

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Three different areas of Atlanta made ATRI’s list of most congested bottlenecks. (iStock Photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released its annual list highlighting the most congested bottlenecks for trucks in America.

The 2020 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-involved congestion at 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from over 1 million heavy duty trucks uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. ATRI’s truck GPS data is also used to support the U.S. DOT’s Freight Mobility Initiative. The bottleneck locations detailed in this latest ATRI list represent the top 100 congested locations, although ATRI continuously monitors more than 300 freight-critical locations.

The intersection of I-95 and State Route 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey is once again the No. 1 freight bottleneck in the country. The rest of the Top 10 includes:

  1. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
  2. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
  3. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
  4. Atlanta, GA: I-75 at I-285 (North)
  5. Chicago, IL: I-290 at I-90/I-94
  6. Atlanta, GA: I-20 at I-285 (West)
  7. Cincinnati, OH: I-71 at I-75
  8. Los Angeles, CA: SR 60 at SR 57
  9. Los Angeles, CA: I-710 at I-105

“ATRI’s bottleneck analysis is an important tool for TDOT as we work to maximize the safety and efficiency of our transportation system, and ensure we are making the smartest investments possible,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Assistant Bureau Chief Freight & Logistics Dan Pallme. “The additional capacity we are providing as part of the ongoing I-440 Reconstruction Project should improve the safety and reliability of this important corridor, which we know is critical to freight movement.”

ATRI’s analysis, which utilized data from 2019, found that the number of locations experiencing significant congestion — with average daily speeds of 45 MPH or less — has increased 92 percent in just five years, far outpacing the 10 percent growth in traffic congestion for that same time period.

“ATA has been beating the drum about the continued degradation of our infrastructure, and thanks to ATRI’s research we can see exactly how decades of ignoring the problem are impacting not just our industry but our economy and commuters everywhere,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “This report should sound the alarm for policymakers that the cost of doing nothing is too high and provide a roadmap of where to target investments to really solve our nation’s mounting infrastructure crisis.”

For access to the full report, including detailed information on each of the 100 top congested locations, please visit ATRI’s website at TruckingResearch.org.

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Stretch of Highway 22 in Oregon closed after tanker crash, diesel spill

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tanker crash on highway 22
Highway 22 between Idanha and Santiam Junction is unlikely to reopen until Friday or Saturday as crews remove contaminated soil in a roadside ditch and rebuild a 600-foot section of roadway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said. (Courtesy: Oregon State Police)

IDANHA, Ore. — A stretch of Highway 22 will be closed for much of this week as crews clean up gasoline and diesel fuel that leaked out of a crashed tanker truck near Idanha along the North Santiam River, state transportation authorities said Monday.

The highway between Idanha and Santiam Junction is unlikely to reopen until Friday or Saturday as crews remove contaminated soil in a roadside ditch and rebuild a 600-foot section of roadway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

An oil sheen was visible on the North Santiam River downstream of the crash site, but officials said most of the tanker’s oil seeped into the ditch, where it was absorbed by the soil. It’s unclear how much entered the river, the Statesman Journal reported.

The city of Salem said Monday that its drinking water is safe and the oil from the spill has not reached its water treatment plant near Stayton, which is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the crash. The oil will take several days to reach the plant, the city said, and teams will test the river water at multiple locations this week. Crews have set up absorbent berms to capture the oil on the water.

If any fuel is detected in the river, the city will close the water intake gates as it did in a similar situation three years ago.

The crash on Sunday closed Highway 22 near Detroit and Santiam Junction. The truck was carrying 10,600 gallons of fuel total — 6,500 gallons of gasoline in a tanker trailer and 4,100 gallons of diesel in the truck’s tanker.

About 7,800 gallons of fuel emptied into a roadside ditch and the rest was recovered, according to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials.

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The Nation

FMCSA final rule lowers annual registration costs for motor carriers

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The reduction of the current 2019 registration year fees range from approximately $3 to $2,712 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated by the affected entities. (iStock Photo)

WASHINGTON — Motor carriers will now see a reduction in the price they must pay to register their vehicles. On February 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a final rule that realigns the fees for the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.

According to the document posted on the federal register last week, this rule establishes reductions in the annual registration fees the states collect from motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies for the UCR Plan and Agreement for the registration years beginning in 2020.

“For the 2020 registration year, the fees will be reduced by 14.45% below the 2018 registration fee level to ensure that fee revenues collected do not exceed the statutory maximum, and to account for the excess funds held in the depository,” the document reads. “The fees will remain at the same level for 2021 and subsequent years unless revised in the future.”

The reduction of the current 2019 registration year fees range from approximately $3 to $2,712 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated by the affected entities.

The UCR Plan and the 41 States participating in the UCR Agreement establish and collect fees from motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies. The UCR Plan and Agreement are administered by a 15-member board of directors; 14 appointed from the participating states and the industry, plus the Deputy Administrator of FMCSA or another Presidential appointee from the Department, according to the final rule.

Revenues collected are allocated to the participating states and the UCR Plan. If annual revenue collections will exceed the statutory maximum allowed, then the UCR Plan must request adjustments to the fees. In addition, any excess funds held by the UCR Plan after payments are made to the states and for administrative costs are retained in the UCR depository, and fees subsequently charged must be adjusted further to return the excess revenues held in the depository.

Adjustments in the fees are requested by the UCR Plan and approved by FMCSA. These two provisions are the reasons for the two- stage adjustment adopted in this final rule.

“While each motor carrier will realize a reduced burden, fees are considered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A–4, Regulatory Analysis as transfer payments, not costs. Transfer payments are payments from one group to another that do not affect total resources available to society. Therefore, transfers are not considered in the monetization of societal costs and benefits of rulemakings,” according to the document.

The rule states that the total state revenue target is more than $107 million.

For more information or the read the rule in its entirety, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/rulemaking/2020-01761.

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