The State of California has set out to impose strict clean air regulations, probably the strictest in all of North America, for all diesel burning vehicles within the State. The impact to the rental industry, and all other industries is a burning question in everyone’s minds.
The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, has set in motion a set of policies and regulations that all operators of diesel burning vehicles must comply with. The new emissions standards are an attempt to reduce the harmful smog created by exhaust fumes, and the health problems that are associated with poor air quality.
As of January this year all Pre-1994 models of diesel engines are no longer allowed to operate in California. All engine models 1994-2003 must have exhaust retrofits and filters installed to reduce emissions by as much as 85%.
In this economic slowdown the cost of this compliance is hurting both small and big business. The cost of the retrofits and filters is quite expensive, especially when a company must retrofit an entire fleet, it can cost literally millions of dollars for already struggling businesses. Taking vehicles out of use that no longer comply is also a huge loss for industry, especially when those vehicles cannot be resold to recoup some of the loss.
Grants and funding for the retrofits are available, but limited. Some extensions and provisions have been made for special circumstances, and for small fleets of 1-3 vehicles. But with everybody already struggling to get through the recession, the regulations are very difficult, if not impossible for some companies to meet. There have been many protests, petitions, and requests for longer extensions, and compromises to the imposed regulations.
In the rental community it means entire fleets of heavy equipment and other rental vehicles requiring retrofits, and many other compliance matters needing to be met. The California Rental Association, or CRA, Driving toward a Cleaner California, or DTCC, and CIAQC, the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition, are some of the organizations voicing the concerns of the industry, as they try to meet these challenging regulations.
One thing is for certain, there is a long way to go to strike a balance between reducing harmful emissions, and the regulations set by CARB, and the economic, and business concerns of many of the industries affected by these regulations.