State adoption of CARB standards confusing for MY 2024

UMA Staff

ALEXANDRIA, VA – With its back to the wall during the COVID pandemic, the motorcoach industry was scarcely aware that many states were adopting all or part of regulations promulgated by the California Air Resource Board otherwise known as CARB.

A little history. CARB is a clean air agency created in 1967 by then-governor Ronald Reagan, predating the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established by President Richard Nixon under an Executive Order in December 1970 (later ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate).

Besides California, States are not permitted to develop their own emissions standards, but the Clean Air Act authorizes other States to choose to adopt California’s standards in lieu of federal requirements. States are not required to seek EPA approval before adopting California’s standards. In one form or another, approximately 15-states have adopted CARB regulations.

In 2020 – 2021, many states began to adopt CARB regulations for emissions of heavy-duty diesel vehicles and a phase-in of zero emissions heavy vehicles. It starts to get fuzzier from here.

Apparently, CARB adopted standards for model year 2024 – 2026 heavy-duty diesel engines similar to the EPA’s model year 2027. There is some indication that engine manufacturers are not ready. If that is accurate, there may be a 1-to-3-year drought from some companies trying to  take delivery of new buses and motorcoaches in affected states.

CARB reports the following states have opted into at least part of the CARB regulations:  Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Oregon, New Jersey, Minnesota (MY 2025), Nevada (MY 2025), New Mexico (MY 2026), Vermont, Virginia (MY 2025), Washington.  Some of these states may have only adopted the automobile portion of the CARB rules, and not the restrictions on heavy duty vehicles like motorcoaches.

Initiated and led by the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended enforcement of the CARB warranty and emissions rule through July 31, 2023. The PA Senate passed a bill this past week blocking PA DEP from enforcing CARB rules under the heavy duty emissions program; however, the bill faces an uncertain future in the PA House.

Some will recall President Trump tried to revoke CARB’s autonomous authority and consolidate all 50-states under unified EPA regulations. Court battles ensued and survived the Trump Administration. President Biden reversed the order, ending the litigation, but leaving CARB intact to continue and grow.

Much remains unclear, however, if your plans include the acquisition of new buses or motorcoaches in model years 2024 – 2026, it is likely time to have a conversation with your manufacturer representative(s).

UMA is gathering additional information from regulators, manufacturers, and operators and will keep you informed as we learn more.  At this point this is thought to be a state issue. There may be opportunities for state or regional associations domiciled in CARB opt-in states to seek assistance from their state regulators and legislators.