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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

Understanding current and upcoming California CARB regulations

Thu, Apr 28, 2022 @ 07:30 AM / by Weber Logistics

For logisticians operating in the Golden State, there is no shortage of regulations to comply with. Many of the most stringent and expensive trucking regulations are determined by CARB – the California Air Resources Board. In this article, we’ll examine current CARB requirements as well as new regulations that will soon come into effect.


What CARB regulations affect transportation?

Under the federal Clean Air Act of 1963, California can – and does – determine its own environmental regulations through CARB. California’s CARB regulations are often stricter than federal standards and are generally more challenging (and expensive) to meet than environmental regulations of other states.

Truck and Bus Regulation


One of the most well-known CARB regulations is the Truck and Bus Regulation. The California Truck and Bus Regulation was developed by CARB in 2008 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and diesel exhaust particulate matter – an air contaminant that studies have linked to adverse health and environmental effects. The regulation applies to all diesel trucks and buses that operate within the state and have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds. 

The regulation requires older heavy vehicles (diesel trucks and buses with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds) to be replaced with 2011-or-newer vehicles – or have vehicles fitted with 2010-or-newer model-year engines – by January 1, 2023. Some older engines had been able to comply with the regulation if they were fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to reduce diesel emissions. But, since 2020, only vehicles with 2010-or-newer engines have been able to be registered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

All trucks that regularly operate within the state of California must comply with the Truck and Bus Regulation and be registered with CARB’s Truck Regulation Upload, Compliance, and Reporting System (TRUCRS) system.

There are, however, a few exceptions for trucks that only rarely operate within California. Non-compliant trucks that limit their miles within California to less than 1,000 in a calendar year may qualify for CARB’s “low-use exemption.” Additionally, non-compliant trucks may apply for a “three-day pass” with CARB. This pass allows a single non-compliant truck to operate within California for three days out of a single calendar year.

Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) Regulation

Diesel-fueled transportation refrigerated units (TRUs) that are installed on trucks must meet an additional set of CARB requirements. According to CARB, model year 2013-and-newer engines less than 25 horsepower must meet Ultra-Low Emission TRU (ULETRU) in-use standard by the end of the 7th year after the engine model year. Model year 2013-and-newer engines between 25-50 horsepower meet ULETRU and have no further standard requirements.


Understanding new CARB regulations

Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulation

According to FreightWaves, ACT requires truck manufacturers in California to sell – beginning with the 2024 model year – a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) out of their total sales. California generally defines ZEVs as battery-powered vehicles, though there are stipulations for hydrogen-powered cells as well.

Under ACT, 9% of Class 4-8 trucks (14,000 to 33,000 lbs.) must be ZEVs in model year 2024; 75% by model year 2035. Those percentages are 5% in 2024 and 40% by 2032 for Class 7-8 trucks.

Advanced Clean Fleets rule

While ACT is already in effect, the Advanced Clean Fleets rule is not yet law – but a formal proposal may come this year. The rule would impact drayage operations in the state fairly quickly by requiring new drayage trucks registered after November 2023 to be ZEVs.

Internal-combustion trucks registered before that date would be allowed to operate for 18 years or 800,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, all drayage trucks would need to be zero-emission by 2035, regardless of the 18-year/800,000 stipulation.

The Clean Fleets rule also would include requirements related to the percentage of trucks in a private fleet that must be ZEVs.

New TRU regulations

CARB has approved new amendments to the TRU regulation, including the following.

Beginning December 31, 2022:

  • New TRUs for trucks, trailers and shipping containers are required to use refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) less than 2,200.
  • Model-year 2023 and newer TRUs are required to meet lower particulate emission standard in line with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

Beginning December 31, 2023:

  • “Owners of refrigerated warehouses and distribution centers, grocery stores, seaport facilities, and intermodal railyards…are required to register with CARB, pay fees every three years, and report all TRUs that operate at their facility.”
  • “TRU owners are required to report all TRUs (including those based out-of-state) that operate in California to CARB, pay TRU operating fees, and affix CARB compliance labels to their TRU every three years.”
  • “TRU owners are required to turn over at least 15 percent of their truck TRU fleet (defined as truck TRUs operating in California) to zero-emission technology each year (for seven years). All truck TRUs operating in California are required to be zero‑emission by December 31, 2029.”


The cost of non-compliance

The cost of non-compliance with CARB can be steep. The following are just a few examples.

  • In a settlement with the EPA, a national trucking company was penalized $125,000 for operating 150 non-CARB-compliant trucks in California between 2013 and 2016 and for failing to verify compliance among 1,200 carriers it hired within the state. In addition to the penalty, it was also ordered to spend $350,000 on air filtration projects at L.A. area schools located near freeways.
    • A trucking company settled for similar infractions with a $100,000 penalty and commitment to a $225,000 air filtration project at L.A.-area schools.
    • In April 2018, the EPA announced settlements with three trucking companies for failing to comply with CARB regulations. These settlements included a combined $201,000 in penalties.


Make sure your 3PL provider is compliant with CARB regulations

Companies that hire trucks for use in California are responsible for verifying that the trucks of the carriers they hire are compliant with CARB regulations. This verification can be in the form of CARB certification or by recording key identification information about the trucks so that compliance can be verified. Non-compliant shippers face fines of up to $10,000 for each year that a non-compliant carrier was hired. If multiple non-compliant carriers were hired, those fines can become quite substantial. 

So, when vetting prospective 3PL transportation and drayage providers, be sure to ask about their equipment as it relates to CARB and other regulations. For instance, Weber Logistics is a West Coast 3PL that embraces green logistics and sustainability initiatives throughout our supply chain offerings – from CARB compliance over the road to the use of 100% emission-free vehicles in our warehouses. We were one of the first members of the EPA SmartWay℠ emissions reductions program and our fleet has maintained the highest EPA rating available.

To learn more about partnering with a CARB-compliant asset-based carrier in California, contact Weber Logistics today

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Topics: Transportation Strategies, Logistics Compliance

Written by Weber Logistics

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