“CARB is a true friend of the trucking industry,” said no one, ever. With their Clean Truck Check program rolling out this year, the California Air Resource Board is certainly not making any new industry friends. Though adapting to a new government mandate is never fun, what’s frustrating to many is as compliance deadlines are approaching, we’re still waiting for CARB to complete its work so that we know how to best comply.

CARB’s Clean Truck Check program grew out of its desire to ensure heavy engines are meeting stringent emissions standards. It’s a reasonable concern considering the revelations about Volkswagen’s deployment of emissions test defeating software. To combat this, Clean Truck Check requires that all motor carriers operating in California register their trucks with CARB (don’t forget to pay the fee) and transmit data to CARB biannually to confirm that their vehicles emissions control systems are working properly. This reporting requirement is being combined with deployment of emissions “sniffers” around the state that will detect vehicle emissions abnormalities and require motor carriers operating them to confirm they are properly repaired.

Motor carriers can comply with the data transmission requirements in one of two ways: contract with a certified technician with an approved reader device to measure compliance and submit the report to CARB; or they can leverage their telematics device to read and transmit the data. Obviously, one solution seems like a more natural fit than the other. The problem, however, is that, to date, no ELDs, have been certified to serve this function.

This is a result the piecemeal approach CARB has been taking to the telematic device certification, only accepting applications in short windows. Presumably to help manage the workflow of certifiers, this approach has created anxiety in the industry as carriers wait to see if/when their vendor will be approved. With no ELDs yet approved, we’ve been told there are “a few,” who submitted applications during last year’s application window and are in the pipeline for approval. The next application window opens June 1, 2024.

So, as we wait to learn who will ultimately be approved to provide this function, we ponder why industry is consistently being asked to move mountains in the name of emissions improvement when it feels like the government can’t move their molehill. In California the transportation sector was the second largest source of GDP in 2020, accounting for 14.5% ($436B) of the total economic output, according to analysis provided by the California State Legislature. As transportation is such a critical component to its economy, STC wishes the California Legislature and CARB would provide the predictability, service, and reasonableness it needs as its second largest customer so it can continue serving California as its critical economic engine.