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California’s regulatory burden falls on shoulders of transportation provider

Over the last several years, California has continually enacted stricter emission standards for trucks in an effort to have cleaner air in the state.

The California Air Resource Board first levied fines on truckers who were not in compliance with the emission regulations on their transportation refrigeration units, and since January the regulations also target the provider of the transportation, regardless of whether that provider is located in California. If the truck goes through the state and you are paying for the load, you must take due diligence steps to assure that the truck hauling your freight is in compliance with the rules.

The state has all of this information on its website (www.arb.ca.gov) but in a nutshell, Ken Gilliland, director of transportation for California-based Western Growers Association, said brokers and receivers are responsible if they secure the transportation. A spokesman for ARB, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to grant interviews, said so far most receivers are following the letter of the law, although one case is pending.

TruckA truck entering the Los Angeles Produce Market. Over the last several years, California has continually enacted stricter emission standards for trucks in an effort to have cleaner air in the state.California does have reciprocity agreements with virtually every other state in the country so it does have the ability to levy and collect fines if a firm is violating California laws.

On its website, ARB spells out the basic requirements for everyone involved in transporting product, including brokers, freight forwarders, shippers, receivers, motor carriers, and their drivers. The guidelines are basically the same for each.

Whatever party “arranges, hires, contracts for or dispatches reefer-equipped trucks, tractor-trailers, shipping containers or railcars for the transport of perishable goods on California highways or railways” must require the carriers it hires to use only trucks and trailers equipped with TRUs that comply with the ARB’s performance standards. The carrier must also have been provided contact information for the provider of the truck so that “drivers can present it to authorized enforcement personnel upon request.”

The ARB’s TRU regulation does not require brokers, forwarders, shippers or receivers to inspect TRUs to determine compliance or turn away noncompliant TRUs at docks. However, the ARB website says, “freight brokers, freight forwarders, shippers and receivers must take steps to comply with the applicable requirements.”

This means they must do some type of due diligence if they are to avoid a fine. Trucks based in California must utilize ARB’s online TRU registration system, so it is easy for a provider of transportation to determine if a California-based truck is in compliance. It is a bit trickier for trucks not based in California. Those may voluntarily register with ARB but they do not have to.

ARB recommends that businesses covered by this regulation “should consider sending notices to carriers, making them aware that the broker, forwarder, shipper or receiver requires all of the refrigerated carriers they hire to comply with the in-use performance standards.” ARB said that notice could require carriers or the dispatching entity to certify “that they will only dispatch reefers that comply with the in-use standards.” Additionally ARB said businesses could determine that they will only do business with trucks that are registered with ARB.

These are actions that will apparently mitigate any fine that is contemplated by ARB when it finds a truck that is not in compliance. And the board is looking for them. Enforcement officers recently set up at a Salinas, CA, loading dock and inspected every truck that came into the premises to pick up a load. There have also been enforcement actions in Los Angeles, Fresno and Santa Maria.