The California Air Resources Board (CARB) -- 12 appointees of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, including County Supervisor Ron Roberts -- passed sweeping regulation this summer requiring off-road diesel equipment, like the dozers used in the recent countywide firefighting efforts, to be replaced two to three times faster than in the past.
"With the raising of 12 hands, these bureaucrats wiped out hundreds of millions of dollars in value on perfectly good equipment," said Mike Shaw, president of El Cajon-based Perry and Shaw, who also serves as vice president of the local Engineering & General Contractors Association (EGCA). "I sold three scrapers a year ago at auctions and when the out-of-country buyer didn't pay, we had to re-auction them six months later. Their value had already plunged 50 percent in anticipation of this regulation."
Industry analysts peg the off-road costs at $13.4 billion by 2020, and CARB staff said one-third of the costs they project would occur in the first three years of the regulation's implementation, which begins in March 2009.
Now, CARB staff has set their sights on a new target: on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicles. Based on statements made in recent workshops statewide, the new proposed regulation would force truck owners to replace vehicles older than 2007 on an aggressive schedule, which first targets trucks made before 1994. The immediate result will be a glut of unsold used diesel equipment in California -- when selling pre-1994 diesel engines within the state is prohibited.
"Targeting consumers instead of manufacturers places unfair burdens on small business owners," said Devin Righter of Trench Shoring Co. and an EGCA officer. "Can you imagine if CARB told everyone in California who owns a car that we all have to sell our current car at junk prices and go buy a new car because the catalytic converter is better?"
Whereas the off-road regulation impacted some 180,000 pieces of equipment, the new on-road regulations will involve perhaps 1.7 million pieces of diesel equipment including: dump trucks, fuel tank trucks, bucket/boom trucks, concrete mixers, crane trucks, tow/hauling trucks, trucks that haul consumer goods and passenger buses over 14,000 gross vehicle weight.
"I want clean air for my little daughter," Shaw said recently, "but I also want her to be able to eat and go to college when she grows up. We have to quit targeting individuals to pay for cleaner air, and spread the cost across all businesses who benefit from this."
"CARB estimates the existing off-road rule will save $17 billion in health costs," added Dan Fauchier, EGCA public works liaison, "so CARB bureaucrats are giving a $17 billion windfall to the HMOs out of the pockets of mom and pop contractors. The funding mechanism is ill-conceived."