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Trucking Firms Found to be In Violation of California Compliance

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Los Angeles, CA: A settlement reached between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various trucking companies which operate in the Los Angeles Basin will result in the payment of just over $201,000 in penalties for failure to comply with California state regulations governing the need to protect air quality in an area of the state that already has some of the worst air quality in the country. While it is not known if the settlement stemmed from a compliance lawsuit per se, the fact remains a handful of companies were found to have dropped the ball when it comes to air quality and compliance with state laws.

“Diesel trucks are heavily used in the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles Basin, which suffer from some of the worst air quality in the nation,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in comments published in the El Paso Times (05/04/17). The exhaust from diesel trucks accounts for the largest source of what is officially deemed as fine particle pollution – more commonly known as soot. Newer trucks are generally equipped with fine particulate filters attached to exhaust systems that mitigate emissions of fine particulate into the air.

Older models however do not generally feature fine particulate filters as standard equipment and must be retrofitted. The statute applies to any truck or bus that operates within the state of California, regardless of where they are originally registered. The El Paso Times reports that some 625,000 trucks and busses that are registered outside of the state of California regularly travel to, or through the state and thus are beholden to the state statue.

The EPA identified California compliance issues with a handful of operators of older-model vehicles that were identified as lacking the necessary fine particulate filters.

According to EPA, C.R. England operated 34 heavy-duty diesel trucks in California from 2013 to 2014 without the required diesel particulate filters. The company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is currently in compliance but is required to pay a $64,000 penalty for prior non-compliance issues.

Knight Transportation is reported to have failed to verify that the carriers it hired to
transport goods in California from 2012 to 2014 complied with the Truck and Bus
emissions statute. Knight was dinged $72,000 and agreed to register all of its hired contractors on the state database, as well as to provide verification of state compliance. Knight calls Phoenix, Arizona home.

Meanwhile, Werner Enterprises is reported to have operated five heavy-duty diesel trucks in California from 2012 to 2014 without the required diesel particulate filters. Werner also, akin to Knight, failed to verify that the carriers it hired to transport goods in California complied with the Truck and Bus guideline. The operator, based out of Omaha, Nebraska, is required to pay a $65,000 penalty.

It is not known if drivers of the trucks at issue were cited in any way, for potentially knowing about the lack of particulate filters.

It should be noted that dirty air affects everyone in the state, from residents to workers alike, and often governs a worker’s capacity to perform tasks required of their employment – especially if they work out of doors and in the thick of polluted air. Compliance control of vehicles potentially adding to the pollution problem in the state, and in the Los Angeles Basin in particular, benefits everyone and can contribute to employee rights overall.

Employees required to work long hours out of doors – especially agricultural workers – are especially vulnerable to excessive heat and poor air quality.

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