Smog Checks for Big Rig Trucks Poised to Be Implemented

Senator Leyva’s SB 210 from 2019 Required CARB to Create Statewide Program to Improve Air Quality and Public Health

Thursday, December 9, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) gave final approval to regulations establishing smog check requirements for heavy-duty diesel trucks in California.

Authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and signed into law in 2019, SB 210 directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to work in coordination with multiple state agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, to develop and implement a Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program for non-gasoline heavy-duty on-road trucks (14,000+ pounds). This bill authorized the Heavy-Duty I/M Program to establish test procedures for different vehicle model years and emissions control technologies to measure the effectiveness of the emissions control of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).  The cost for compliance cannot exceed $30 annually.

Prior to SB 210, state law did not require heavy-duty vehicles to have the same types of smog checks that have been required for passenger vehicles for over three decades.

“I am beyond excited that this historic program will finally be implemented across California and that it will result in the largest reduction in NOx emissions since the Truck and Bus Regulations were adopted in 2008. Just as passenger vehicles have already been doing for decades, it is long overdue that big diesel trucks undergo smog check testing so that we can continue to clean our air and improve public health across California. By keeping polluting dirty trucks off our freeways and roads, we will take an important step forward in further cleaning the air across our state,” Senator Leyva said.  “The benefits this program will bring to our environment, our communities and the health and wellbeing of our families is a clear win-win for all Californians.”

According to CARB, “in 2020, heavy-duty vehicles emitted approximately 52 percent of the statewide on-road mobile source oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and about 54 percent of the statewide on-road mobile source particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions.”

Today, 70% of Californians breathe unhealthy air with heavy-duty trucks being the largest emission contributors in the state. Increased exposure to harmful emissions has been directly associated with serious health impacts, particularly for the elderly, small children, and people with pre-existing respiratory issues. CARB estimates that “particulate pollution contributes to approximately 5,000 deaths annually in California with half of those related to transportation pollution.”

By 2037, CARB estimates that the Heavy-Duty I/M Program “is projected to cut statewide NOx emissions by 81.3 tons per day (tpd) and PM emissions by 0.7 tpd.” These reductions will result in “roughly 7,500 avoided premature deaths and 6,000 avoided hospitalization statewide, which are equivalent to monetized health benefits of $75.8 billion for the 2023-2050 period.”

Following today’s approval of related regulations by the California Air Resources Board, the first phase of the Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program will begin on January 1, 2023.