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EMA sues California over leadtimes of low NOx ‘Omnibus’ regulation

2 June 2022

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) has filed a lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB), alleging that the agency’s low NOx emission standards for heavy-duty engines—a.k.a. the CARB Omnibus regulation—fails to provide manufacturers with legally-required minimum four years of leadtime. The lawsuit seeks to delay the implementation dates of the regulation and ‘reinstate’ the leadtime periods.

Under the US Clean Air Act (CAA), heavy-duty on-highway engine and vehicle manufacturers must be provided at least four full model years of leadtime before new emission standards become effective. The CAA requires California to provide manufacturers the same minimum four-year leadtime that applies to federal emission standards adopted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EMA said.

The CARB Omnibus regulation is a 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. Some of the key requirements are lower FTP emission standards for NOx, including 0.050 g/bhp-hr from 2024 and 0.02 g/bhp-hr from 2027.

The CARB low NOx emission standards were approved on August 27, 2020, but became legally binding more than one year later, on December 22, 2021, when the regulation was approved by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and filed with the California Secretary of State. Since the Omnibus regulation requires manufacturers to comply with new emission standards from January 1, 2024, the manufacturers have only two years of leadtime, argues the EMA.

EMA President Jed R. Mandel said, “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 leadtime mandated by Congress. 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.”

The 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, noted the EMA. In the Clean Air Act, 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 US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reaffirmed Congress’s intent.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California, seeks to reaffirm the minimum four-year leadtime requirement, and to delay CARB enforcement of the provisions of the Omnibus regulation that are scheduled to take effect from 2024 until 2026.

The US EPA has proposed federal low NOx emission standards for heavy-duty engines that would be harmonized, at least to some degree, with the CARB rule and would become effective in model year 2027.

Source: EMA