California Omnibus Regulation – Proposed Amendments & Public Hearing

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced proposed changes to the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus (Omnibus) regulation to implement key provisions of the agreement they entered into with truck manufacturers to improve product availability for 2024 through 2026.  Public comment on these changes closes on September 18, 2023.

According to the notice, CARB staff is proposing 2 options to amend the legacy engine provisions of the Omnibus regulation. The changes will provide more compliance flexibility to allow manufacturers to produce and certify greater numbers of 2024-2026 model year (MY) legacy engines. The pathways for offsetting legacy engine emission deficits would remain the same as in the existing language. Staff believes these changes will not reduce the emissions benefits anticipated under the regulation. Further additions include the ability to certify a legacy engine family before certification of the Omnibus compliant engine family and the ability to start working on projects in disadvantaged communities as early as 2024 MY.

The public notice also stated CARB staff’s intent not to hold a public hearing on these amendments unless one was requested in writing by September 3, 2023. Well, several charter bus companies – including the California Bus Association (CBA) and other independent companies – have done just that. According to CBA, a hearing is necessary “to fully assess both the proposed amendments and their impact, as well as the steps leading to the development of these amendments,” as it relates to the end users of heavy-duty engines like buses and motorcoaches.

The hearing format should resemble that of a board meeting except it will be conducted by the Executive Officer, who would then decide on what action staff should take in response to the comments provided. This format falls under the authority granted by the CARB Board in Resolution 23-15, wherein the Board delegated to the Executive Officer the powers that were previously delegated to itself – to adopt, amend, and revoke emission standards, test procedures, compliance test procedures, and compliance flexibilities for new on-road motor vehicles.

The requesters have asked for a hearing prior to the September 18th comment deadline or for the comment deadline to be extended.