California budget deal eases off-road emissions rules

The story from the Los Angeles Times is short on specifics, but long on weeping and wailing from the greens. This quote is so over the top that it’s almost satire:

“There are people who will die because of this delay,” said Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the state Air Resources Board. “It is sad in an era where most people understand that strong environmental standards actually help California’s economy as well as public health . . .”

One might wonder about that last statement. California certainly does have the country’s most stringent environmental standards; but it also has one of the most stagnant economies, clearly the largest budget deficits and some of the top home foreclosure rates in the county.

We tried to contact CARB to get some clarification on this, what one environmental group termed a “backroom deal.” But it turns out the CARB offices are “furloughed” on Fridays as part of the state-wide budget savings. I thought the state’s financial problems were over after the passage of the new budget, but perhaps CARB didn’t get the word. And you would think if people are going to die because of these changes,  state regulators might want to actually come in and work on Fridays. Perhaps some things are just more important.

We did manage to get some clarification from the AGCs’ Brian Turmail who said: “This language does not change any of the original deadlines.  It merely allows contractors to count actual reductions in their emissions (based on their retirement of existing equipment and changes in their actual hours of operation), and gives them addition flexibility in meeting the deadline for 2013.”

Brian also gave us the specific language written into the budget law, which we’ve provided below the “Read more” line. Warning: this “language is a Byzantine bureaucratic tangle, that only a few people in the world will understand. We’ll try to post some updates next week, even perhaps translate the CARB code into English.

SEC. 2. Section 43018.2 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:
43018.2. (a) The state board shall amend Sections 2449.1 and2449.2 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations to do both of the following:
(1) Modify the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) best available control technology requirements to allow a fleet to achieve its cumulative turnover and retrofit requirements for the years 2011 to 2013, inclusive, by completing 20 percent of its cumulative turnover and retrofit obligations in 2011, an additional 20 percent in 2012, and the balance in 2013.
(2) (A) Modify the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) credit provisions to reflect vehicle retirements that reduce total fleet horsepower between March 1, 2006, and March 1, 2010, and reduced activity between July 1, 2007, and March 1, 2010.
(B) “Reduced activity” for the purposes of this paragraph means the percentage reduction in the average annual hours of operation of the off-road fleet. That percentage shall be carried forward as a credit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) to offset the annual percentage reductions required for 2010 and 2011. The credit shall not be used to meet any obligations beyond 2011.
(b) The amendment of regulations required by this section is exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5(commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).