Citing the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) new heavy-duty engine regulation that fails to provide manufacturers with the legally-required minimum four years of lead time to comply with state mandates, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) filed a lawsuit May 27 seeking to reinstate it, EMA said in a press release.

The lawsuit seeks to ensure CARB follows explicit requirements established by Congress in the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) that heavy-duty on-highway engine and vehicle manufacturers be given at least four full model years of lead time before new emission standards become effective, the same that applies to federal emission standards adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EMA said.

CARB adopted the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation Dec. 22, 2021. The package of stringent emission standards, test procedures, and other emission-related requirements applicable to new heavy-duty on-highway engines and vehicles sold in California requires heavy-duty engine and vehicle manufacturers to comply with new standards by Jan. 1, 2024, which EMA notes is just two years of lead time.

Recognizing California’s air quality issues, EMA said the federal CAA allows California to establish its own unique standards not subject to the Act’s preemption provisions, provided California meets certain requirements – including providing heavy-duty on-highway engine and vehicle manufacturers four full model years of lead time. CARB attributes the ramped up timelines to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s September 2020 executive order demanding vehicle and equipment sales be “zero emissions” no later than 2045 “where feasible.”

The lawsuit could impact other equipment and vehicle sectors facing looming bans on the sale of new gas-powered engines before 2026. It is uncertain how CARB would address this before implementing regulations in those sectors, some of which are expected to take effect by next year.

“Truck and engine manufacturers are proud that today’s modern engines reduce harmful emissions to near zero levels, and we are committed to building still cleaner products – but CARB must provide manufacturers the minimum four years of lead time mandated by Congress,” EMA President Jed R. Mandel said. “We acknowledge that the Clean Air Act gives CARB the authority to establish California-specific emissions standards and regulations; however, in doing so, CARB must follow Congress’s requirements. This lawsuit is simply to ensure that CARB follows all of the prescribed rules – one of which is intended to maximize the likelihood of the smooth and successful implementation of new emission standards.”

When enacting the CAA, Congress recognized that heavy-duty on-highway engine and vehicle manufacturers needed time to develop and produce products to meet stringent new emissions standards, according to EMA. The highly diversified and low-volume commercial engine and vehicle manufacturing industry must design multiple new engine and exhaust aftertreatment technologies, conduct extensive testing to ensure long-term durability, integrate the new systems into extensive distinct vehicle chassis, and assure customers that the new products will meet their needs through real-world demonstrations. In the CAA, Congress determined that four full model years is the minimum amount of time manufacturers needed to complete the product design and development process, and

in 1986 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reaffirmed Congress’s intent, EMA said.

“Manufacturers and our customers should not be forced to short circuit the design, development and integration process, and CARB should not be allowed to circumvent Congress’ clear mandate to provide adequate lead time, Mandel added. “We urge the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to reaffirm the minimum four-year lead time requirement. We hope this matter will be resolved quickly so that manufacturers have the lead time and regulatory certainty needed to develop and build the products our customers – and our economy – depend on.”

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