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March 28, 2011 2:30 AM, EDT

CARB to Consider Additional Changes to Its Transport Refrigeration Unit Rule

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the March 28 print edition of Transport Topics.

The California Air Resources Board is considering amendments to its transport refrigeration unit regulation, including one that would extend the current seven-year in-use compliance period.

Another amendment would add California-based shippers and brokers to a list of parties responsible for the use of compliant reefer units.

CARB plans to conduct a “draft regulatory concepts” public meeting on March 29 in Sacramento. The meeting also will be webcast on the Internet and via teleconference.

The meeting is a continuation of discussions on how to fine-tune the reefer rule that began last year. In November, CARB’s board of directors began easing some compliance requirements and timelines.

“They realized they didn’t have enough time to get to evaluate all of the modifications, so they ended up picking a couple  that were pertinent to the requirements that went into effect at the beginning of this year,” said Mike Tunnell, director of environmental affairs for American Trucking Associations. “Now they’re picking up where they left off last year.”

CARB said it is aiming to approve the second round of modifications in upcoming months.

Tunnell said the reefer useful life rule “has been a big point of contention for carriers.”

If the rule is modified, carriers would not have to begin installing retrofits to or replacements of existing TRUs until they are at least 10 years old.

“The current seven-year rule cuts into the use cycle that carriers generally have on this equipment,” Tunnell said. “CARB is looking at possibly a 10-year window.”

A proposal to add shippers and brokers as responsible parties in TRU compliance is designed to align the reefer regulations with requirements in many of the agency’s newer regulations, Tunnell said.

“The more recent regulations have included language to allow enforcement to be taken against California-based shippers and brokers,” Tunnell said. “That way, there’s some responsibility for who you contract with to ensure that you’re using compliant equipment.”

CARB said there are several other possible modifications to the reefer rule being discussed, including:

• A provision clarifying compliance by repowering with a cleaner new or rebuilt engine.

• A provision clarifying operational and record-keeping requirements for hybrid electric and hybrid cryogenic temperature-controlled TRUs.

• A provision to allow CARB’s executive officer to extend compliance dates by up to a year when technology is not available.

• Provisions that would include exemptions for low-use TRUs, nonoperational equipment and TRUs used in emergencies.

• A provision that would allow the use of unit manufacture year — instead of engine model year — for determining compliance requirements and dates, if certain conditions are met.

During the March 29 meeting, CARB also will provide an update on the state’s general progress in cutting diesel emissions with reports on the engine population, emissions inventory, assessment of emissions effects and public health effects, officials said.