Smoke-free smackdown — California style

The California Air Resources Board has taken on United Rentals, fining the U.S.-based rental equipment supplier for $166,800 of diesel emissions violations that ARB says occurred in numerous districts during 2007 and 2008.

ARB says its investigators perform regular inspections as part of the Periodic Smoke Inspection Fleet Program, or PSIP, which ARB created in 1988 to ensure California-based truck and bus fleets with two or more heavy-duty disel vehicles with a GVW of 6,000 pounds or more conduct annual smoke opacity and tampering self-inspections for all their vehicles.

Apparently, under the program, all equipment fleets as stated above must provide documentation to ARB showing inspections are being carried out for the next four years (among other stipulations), or the fleets risk being fined up to $500 per machine, per year.

According to Karen Caesar, information officer for California ARB, United Rentals has agreed to pay the fines in question. Caesar says ARB frequently has settlements of enforcement cases, and also mentioned that in 2007 alone, ARB issued citations for 3,442 cases for a variety of infractions. Stay tuned for more on this story, including United Rentals response.