As most readers already know, the California Air Resources Board has set deadlines for the use of various years of on-road diesel engines in the state of California. The dates we are discussing here are ENGINE YEAR, not truck model year, which may or may not be the same. Yesterday, the Air Resources Board issued an enforcement reminder for the 2000-2004 engine year groups. This group had until January 1, 2013 to be retrofitted with an approved particulate filter or be banned from operating in the state of California. However, as they did last year with the 1996-1999 engines, they are allowing small fleet owners to register their 2000-2004 engined trucks and receive a one-year extension which is good until January 1, 2014.

To register your truck with ARB you can go to their website at www.arb.ca.gov/truckstop , or by calling 1-866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) or via email at 8666DIESEL@arb.ca.gov . Mercer’s Contractor Relations Department can also assist you. Jason, Eric and Gerald have a lot of experience with this since the 1996-1999 folks had to do it last year.

If you have a 1996-1999 engine, do not go into California unless you have had it retrofitted with an approved particulate filter or it has been registered. If you have a 2000-2004 engine, do not go into California after December 31, 2012 unless you have had it retrofitted with an approved particulate filter or it has been registered.

Remember, this is a serious deal in California. The fines are steep: $1,000 per month for the first violation and increasing over time. In the first nine months of 2012, CARB collected nearly $2,000,000 in penalties. If you have a 1996-2004 engine, you will be checked for compliance at some point in California. There is no fee to register your engine. Mercer will not pay fines for contractor non-compliance with CARB requirements. We will not encourage nor condone non-compliance with these requirements by any contractor.

If you truck in California, I urge you to spend some quality time with your engine. If it is electronic, be sure it has an Emission Control Label (ECL) that is legible. Be sure you know what YEAR the engine is. If you have problems or questions about either of these, contact your dealer. You can also obtain a missing ECL from your dealer, probably not for free however.

I am expecting to see more emissions compliance requirements in more locations in the coming years. My advice to all owner-operators who plan on being in this business for the long haul is to have a definite plan and timetable in place to update your equipment. I would suggest looking for a 2007 or newer engine. Trucking until you are forced to quit is simply not good business. I hear a lot of folks say that, but very few actually mean it. The time to plan is now. Don’t kill the messenger: I just call ’em like I see ’em.  You guys with the 2000-2004 engines need to act now if you want to continue to operate in California. Be safe.