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What You Need to Know About CARB's In-Use Off-Road Diesel Regulations


By Tim Sullivan. CC0

In November 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved amendments to . . . wait for it . . . its "In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleet" regulations - that enough hyphens for you - which took effect on January 1, 2024. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce emissions from off-road equipment, many of which are used by construction contractors, such as forklifts, bulldozers, cranes and excavators.


Are these new regulations?


Yes and no. CARB has regulated in-use off-road diesel-fueled vehicles since 2008 and has periodically amended these regulations. The most recent amendments take effect on January 1, 2024. 


What vehicles do the regulations apply to?


The regulations apply to two classes of vehicles (1) self-propelled off-road diesel-fueled vehicles of 25 horsepower (hp) or more; and (2) two-engine vehicles other than on-road two-engine sweepers. The regulations apply to both owned as well as rented and leased vehicles. As used in this article, the term "vehicle(s)" refers to these two classes of vehicles.


What are the reporting requirements under the regulations?


The regulations require that fleet owners report their vehicles using CARB's online reporting tool DOORS. Fleet owners are required to report all vehicles operating in California and must report new vehicles, sold vehicles, and retired vehicles within 30 days. Fleet owners are required to review and update vehicle information by March 1st of each year.


NOTE: When selling vehicles, sellers must provide certain information regarding the off-road diesel-fuel fleet regulations on a bill of sale or invoice and keep records  that the disclosure was provided for three (3) years after the sale. The required disclosure language is as follows:


“When operated in California, any off-road diesel vehicle may be subject to the California Air Resources Board In-Use Off-road Diesel Vehicle Regulation. It therefore could be subject to retrofit or accelerated turnover requirements to reduce emissions of air pollutants. For more information, please visit the California Air Resources Board website at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/ordiesel/ordiesel.htm.”


What are the labeling requirements under the regulations?


After vehicles have been reported to CARB a unique Equipment Identification Number (EIN) will assigned to each vehicle. Fleet owners are required to label their vehicles within 30 days of receiving EINs. It is important to note that, while CARB issues EINs, it does not issue EIN labels. Fleet owners are required to make or purchase EIN labels or placards or paint EINs on their vehicles following CARB's labeling requirements.  


What are the emissions reduction requirements under the regulations?


By January 1st of each year, a fleet owner must demonstrate that their fleet meets either: (1) the fleet average target for that year; or (2) has completed the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) requirements.


The fleet average target is the fleet average that a specific fleet must meet each year in order to show compliance with the fleet average requirements. In lieu of meeting the fleet average target, a fleet can meet BACT requirements.


Emissions reduction requirements have ended for most fleet sizes other than small fleets. Small fleets are fleets with total combined off-road diesel horsepower of all vehicles under common ownership or control of less than 2,500 hp.



NOTE: Large (total combined off-road diesel horsepower greater than 5,000 hp) and medium (total combined off-road diesel horsepower of 2,501 to 5,000 hp) fleets may have requirements beyond the above dates if the fleet average target has not been met. Note as well that there are certain exemptions from BACT for large, medium and small fleets.


What are the restrictions on the addition of new vehicles under the regulations?


Fleet owners are banned from adding certain vehicles, identified as Tier 0, 1 and 2 vehicles, to their fleets. A "tier" refers to the emissions certification level of an engine. Most of these bans have already taken effect:


  • Ban on Tier 0 Vehicles: Effective January 1, 2014. fleet owners were prohibited from adding a vehicle with a Tier 0 engine to their fleet.

  • Ban on Tier 1 Vehicles: Effective January 1, 2014, for large and medium fleets, and January 1, 2016, for small fleets, fleet owners were prohibited from adding a vehicle with a Tier 1 engine to their fleet.

  • Ban on Tier 2 Vehicles: Effective January 1, 2018, for large and medium fleets, and January 1, 2023, for small fleets, fleet owners were prohibited from adding a vehicle with a Tier 2 engine to their fleet.


As to vehicles permitted to be added to a fleet, Tier 1, 2, and 3 vehicles, have been permitted to be added to fleets depending on fleet size. However, beginning January 1, 2024, all new vehicles must be Tier 4 or higher.



What are the phase out requirements under the regulations?


In addition to restrictions on the addition of vehicles to a fleet, beginning January 1, 2024, fleet owners are required to phase out certain vehicles.


  • Large Fleet Phase-Out: Beginning January 1, 2024, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 0 vehicles or model year 1994 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2026, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 1 vehicles or model year 1999 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2028, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 2 vehicles or model year 2003 or earlier vehicles.


  • Medium Fleet Phase-Out: Beginning January 1, 2026, medium fleets are banned from operating Tier 0 vehicles or model year 1994 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2028, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 1 vehicles or model year 1999 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2030, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 2 vehicles or model year 2003 or earlier vehicles.


  • Small Fleet Phase-Out: Beginning January 1, 2028, small fleets are banned from operating Tier 0 vehicles or model year 1994 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2030, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 1 vehicles or model year 1999 or earlier vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2032, large fleets are banned from operating Tier 2 vehicles or model year 2003 or earlier vehicles.


The regulations also provide special optional phase-out requirements for ultra-small fleets (total combined off-road diesel horsepower of 500 hp or less). Ultra-small fleets may comply with the small fleet phase-out requirements above or comply with an optional phase-out requirement schedule that allows for phase out of Tier 0 and 1 vehicles by 2029 by demonstrating that the fleet has a minimum percentage of Tier 2 vehicles:



NOTE: Phase-out requirements may be delayed for two years for a Tier 1 or 2 vehicle for each zero-emission vehicle added to a fleet on or after January 1, 2024. However, zero-emission vehicles must meet certain requirements and must be reported to CARB. In addition, fleet owners may submit a request to CARB to meet an alternative compliance pathway through zero-emission technology.


What are the renewable diesel fuel requirements under the regulations?


Beginning January 1, 2024, vehicles, including rental vehicles, subject to the regulations are required to only use R99 or R100 renewable diesel fuel. Fleet owners are required to maintain documents demonstrating compliance with the renewable diesel fuel requirements including the date and volumes of fuel purchased. Records must be kept for three (3) calendar years from the date of the transaction. Certain exemptions apply to the renewable diesel fuel requirements.


What are the idling requirements under the regulation?


Fleet owners are required to limit unnecessary idling to five minutes although there are exceptions for vehicles that need to idle to perform work such as a crane providing hydraulic power to a boom, vehicles being services, or in queue waiting for work. In addition, large and medium fleet owners are required to have written idling policy.


What are the public works contracting requirements under the regulations?


Beginning January 1, 2024, for public works projects involving the use of vehicles subject to the regulations, public works awarding bodies may not award a public works contract to a prime contractor unless it first obtains a Certificate of Reported Compliance from the prime contractor and from subcontractors with fleets that will be used on the project. Similarly, a prime contractors may not enter into subcontracts with a subcontractor unless it first obtains a Certificate of Reported Compliance from the subcontractor with fleets that will be used on the project. Certificates of Reported Compliance are required to be maintained for three (3)  years following project completion and must be furnished to CARB within five (5) business days of request.


In addition, beginning January 1, 2024, prime contractors are required to obtain updated Certificates of Reported Compliance between March 1st and June 1st of each year from all subcontractors with fleets that will be used on the project. If a prime contractor discovers that a subcontractor does not have a valid Certificate of Reported Compliance, or if the prime contractor observes any non-compliant vehicles on the job site, the prime contractor is required to report such violation to CARB at https://calepacomplaints.secure.force.com/complaints/Complaint, or email dieselcomplaints@arb.ca.gov within five (5) business days of such discovery.


Finally, beginning January 1, 2024, prime contractor are required to display signage on projects that will operate for eight (8) calendar days or more, signage in lettering larger than 14-point type and displayed in a place where notices to employees are customarily posted or where there is employee foot traffic (or, if one of the locations is also viewable by the public, then the signage will be posted at that location), with the following language:


"Who does the In-Use Off-Road Regulation Apply to?

 

The In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) applies to all self-propelled off-road diesel vehicles 25 horsepower or greater and most two-engine vehicles (except on-road two-engine sweepers) owned or operated in California. This includes vehicles that are rented or leased (rental or leased fleets).

 

In-Use Off-Road Regulation Requirements

 

Idling Limit: Vehicles cannot idle longer than five minutes. There are exceptions for vehicles that need to idle to perform work.

 

Labeling: Vehicles must be labeled with a CARB assigned equipment identification number (EIN). The EIN shall be white on a red background, unless the vehicle is part of a captive attainment area fleet, in which case the EIN shall be white on a green background.

 

The EIN shall be located in clear view on both sides of the outside of the vehicle.

 

How to Report Observed Noncompliance

 

If you have information regarding possible violations of the In-use Off-road Diesel Regulation, fill out a complaint form at https://calepacomplaints.secure.force.com/complaints/Complaint, or email dieselcomplaints@arb.ca.gov the following information:

 

1. The name of the party that is responsible for the vehicle that was observed to be noncompliant;

2. The Business's name;

3. The job site location (including address, city, and Zip, or coordinates);

4. The following information for the vehicle you observed to be noncompliant:

a. EIN, if observed;

b. A description of the vehicle type if the EIN is unknown; and

c. Photos of the vehicle, where possible; and

5. A description of the noncompliance you observed.

 

For more information on the Off-Road Regulation, including Fact Sheets, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and DOORS User Guides, please visit the Off-Road Zone at http://arb.ca.gov/offroadzone."

 

NOTE: The contracting and Certificates of Reported Compliance requirements are not required where a project involves "emergency operations." An "emergency operation" includes: (1) activities conducted during emergency, life threatening situations, where a sudden, unexpected occurrence that poses a clear and imminent danger, requiring immediate action to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, property, or an essential public service; or in conjunction with any officially declared disaster or state of emergency, as declared by an authorized health officer, agricultural commission, fire protection officer, or other authorized health officer; (2) activities conducted by essential public and private service utilities to provide electricity, natural gas, broadband and telephone, water, or sewer during prods of service outages and emergency; and (3) operations including repairing or preventing damage to roads, buildings, terrain, and infrastructure as a result of an earthquake, flood, storm, fire, other infrequent act of nature, or terrorism other than routine maintenance or construction to prevent health risks. 


Other than the off-road diesel-fuel regulations I've heard there are other CARB regulations that apply to off-road large spark-ignition engines and portable equipment, is that true? 


Yes. CARB has separate regulations governing off-road large spark-ignition equipment such as forklifts, floor scrubbers and sweepers, and industrial tow tractors known as the "LSI Fleet Regulations." The LSI Fleet Regulations apply to equipment with engines that meet the following requirements: (1) 24 hp or greater; (2) greater than 1 liter displacement. The LSI Fleet regulations, like the off-road diesel-fuel regulations, requires LSI fleets to be reported to CARB through DOORS, to meet average emission level standards, and to be labeled. More information on the LSI Fleet Regulations can be found here.


CARB also has separate regulations governing portable equipment such as air compressors, generators, concrete pumps, tub grinders, wood chippers, water pumps, drill rigs, pile drivers, rock drills, abrasive blasters, aggregate screening and crushing plants, and concrete batch plants known as the "Portable Equipment Registration Program." The Portable Equipment Registration Program is an optional program allows portable engines and equipment units to operate without authorization, although certain exceptions apply, or permits from air quality management or air pollution control districts. More information on the  Portable Equipment Registration Program can be found here.

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