[CCTA] – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decision on March 3, 2015 regarding the California Construction Trucking Association (formerly the California Dump Truck Owners Association) ongoing litigation (CDTOA v. Nichols) challenging the legality of the California Air Resource Boards (CARB) burdensome Statewide Truck and Bus regulation banning from California highways all diesel powered trucks not meeting post manufacturing emissions requirements.
The court’s decision is disappointing but not surprising. At virtually every step of the way, well-funded environmental groups united with CARB delayed the case and prevented the courts from hearing the merits of our federal preemption argument. Our argument is simple: Congress enacted a law (Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act or FAAAA) to prevent states from regulating the trucking industry, and the CARB rule does exactly what Congress has prohibited.
As a result, small mom-and-pop trucking businesses, most of whom are owner-operators, are being forced out-of-business by the costly rule. Those that can afford to purchase new trucks to comply with the rule will inevitably have to pass on their costs to the consumers who purchase the goods transported by our members (this cost pass through as a result of state law is an example of a violation of the FAAAA prohibition against state laws affecting the price, routes and services of motor carriers). Through procedural maneuvering, the massive legal teams at CARB and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have continued to deny justice to those being unfairly injured by the CARB rule.
Rather than deal with our single claim – that CARB’s state regulation was directly violating a federal law, the environmental groups opposed our request for a preliminary injunction, and the court delayed issuing a decision for many months. More disappointing is the fact that our lawsuit never directly challenged the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) or U.S. EPA’s adoption of California’s State Implementation Plan (SIP). At the time we sued CARB, the agency was acting under state law – not federal law as claimed by the NRDC. Once the U.S. EPA approved the SIP, the NRDC waited nearly two months to inform the court of that fact. When the issue of the CAA and the SIP was injected into the case, the court subsequently concluded that a 60-day procedural clock started ticking in which to file a direct petition to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging adoption of CARB’s regulations into the SIP and approved by the U.S. EPA essentially “federalizing” a state regulation. However, it was never our intention to challenge the SIP or the CAA, and the 60-day period had already run at the time the court ruled that our lawsuit implicitly challenged the SIP.
Arguing that CARB regulations are U.S. EPA regulations (federalized) runs counter to the CAA which does not give the U.S. EPA regulatory authority over in-use equipment.
Thus, once the court decided we were challenging the SIP, the time for filing a direct petition in the Ninth Circuit had already passed, and the court was able to, after the fact, declare all the courthouse doors closed to us. We don’t believe it’s fair to our industry to be denied the benefit of protection from a federal law that was passed expressly to stop states from doing what California is doing. Therefore, we are working with our lawyers to take this fight to the next level. We will definitely appeal, and it may be that only the highest court in the land can give truck owners the justice they deserve.
Our fight continues to be critical for the trucking industry, both within California and nationally. At this point, with this litigation the CCTA is no longer just fighting against CARB’s onerous Truck and Bus Rule, we are fighting for a precedent that will block CARB and every other state from enacting existing CARB regulations and even more burdensome environmental rules that will devastate the trucking industry. On behalf of our membership, CCTA pledges to continue on in this ongoing battle.
[Click here] to read the Court of Appeal decision.
The CCTA is a 501(c) (6) nonprofit trade association incorporated in 1941. CCTA’s over 1,000 member companies and another 5,000 affiliated member motor carriers engage in multiple modes of trucking operations from construction related to general freight operations. Our diversified group of member motor carriers operates in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce. Our members operate many different types and classes of commercial motor vehicles, including dump trucks, concrete pumpers and mixers, water trucks, port and border dray trucks, heavy-haul trucks, and class 8 over-the-road tractors. Member companies range in size from one-truck owner-operators to fleets with more than 350 trucks.
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