Updates On California Air Resources Board (CARB) Emission Requirements In Pennsylvania

PA DEP Extends CARB Emission Suspension to Model Year 2027

On June 10, 2023 the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) announced they will suspend enforcement of 25 Pa. Code Chapter 126, Subchapter E (relating to Pennsylvania Heavy-Duty Diesel Emissions Control Program) until January 2, 2026. The Pennsylvania Heavy-Duty Diesel Emissions Control Program (Program) applies to the manufacturers of new heavy-duty diesel (HDD) engines that are used in vehicles with a GVWR of greater than 14,000 pounds sold within Commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Program adopts California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations by reference. This means policy adopted by California can automatically be implemented in Pennsylvania.

Clean Air Act Section 177 allows other states to adopt California’s motor vehicle emission standards. Section 177 requires states that choose to do so must adopt emission standards identical to the California standards. Currently, 17 states (New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia, and New Mexico) and the District of Columbia, representing 35.9 percent of all new vehicle sales sold in the U.S., have adopted California’s prior vehicle emission standards.

This suspension of enforcement will allow vehicles and engines subject to the Program that have not been issued a CARB Executive Order and which meet the Federal HDD emission standards to be sold, leased, offered for sale or lease, imported, delivered, purchased, rented, acquired or received in this Commonwealth during the suspension beginning with model year (MY) 2022 and ending with MY 2026. This suspension of enforcement supersedes the suspension notice published at 51 Pa.B. 7000 (November 6, 2021).

While this is an important development, the Department’s exercise of enforcement discretion does not protect a manufacturer, distributor, seller, renter, importer, leaser or owner of a retail outlet from the possibility of legal challenge by third persons under 25 Pa. Code Chapter 126, Subchapter E.

Action has been taken by that state legislature to permanently block CARB within Pennsylvania. In February 2023 the state Senate passed Senate Bill 254 – Yaw but it has not moved within the House Transportation Committee for multiple months. The PPA supports the ultimate passage of SB 254 which would free our state from California policymaking decisions.

PMTA Sues Pennsylvania DEP Over CARB Regulations

The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association and four of its member companies have recently filed suit to block PA DEP from enforcing in Pennsylvania California Air Resources Board regulations requiring trucks to comply with tougher emissions and warranty requirements. In 2002, the DEP adopted regulations that incorporated the California emissions standards into Pennsylvania as they apply to heavy diesel engines. In subsequent years ,CARB made those standards and warranty requirements more stringent resulting in significantly more expensive costs for trucks to be compliant with the law.

The PMTA suit asks the Pennsylvania Commonwealth to permanently block the new requirements from being enforced in Pennsylvania. In 2021, PA DEP suspended enforcement of the more stringent California rule until it further evaluated if there was a need for the requirement for Pennsylvania to meet other federal Clean Air Act requirements.

The PMTA suit argues that since the legislature did not specifically authorize the adoption of the tougher CARB standard that DEP does not have the power to enforce that requirement in any event. The trucking industry has stated that if the California heavy duty vehicle emissions standard is not blocked in Pennsylvania, that the significantly higher price and warranty requirements will result in companies going to other (non-CARB standard) states to purchase new trucks when replacing or expanding their fleets.

The case is Peters Brothers, Inc., et al., v. Penn DEP, et al. [https://pacificlegal.org/case/pa-trucking-diesel-carb-standards/], filed in The Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, PA.