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For three days last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) hosted its members – over 460 public water agencies collectively delivering approximately 90 percent of the water throughout California for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses – and their counsel at its spring conference in Monterey, California. Among the rich and timely programming ACWA offered was the Fleet Electrification: Navigating New California Requirements for Public Water Agencies session (Fleet Session). The Fleet Session provided a robust panel discussion regarding the impact of California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) proposed Advanced Clean Fleet Requirements for State and Local Agencies (Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg or Reg) and steps certain agencies are taking now to navigate those forthcoming regulations and forecast compliance, while maintaining their essential public service operational requirements and redundancy needs.
The Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg aims to accelerate the deployment of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) and Near-Zero Emission Vehicles. ZEV are either fully electric-powered or hydrogen-fueled vehicles, as they must produce “zero exhaust emission of any criteria pollutant (or precursor pollutant) or greenhouse gas under any possible operational modes or conditions.” (Reg, § 2013, subd. (b) [zero-emissions vehicle definition].)
The Fleet Panel highlighted the basics of the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, noting that its scope is broad, applying to any public agency with vehicles. Specifically, section 2013 of the Reg states:
[T]his regulation applies to any state or local government agency with jurisdiction in California that owns, leases, or operates one or more vehicles … that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 8,500 pounds that are operated in California.
(Reg, § 2013, subd. (a)(1) & (2), emphasis added.) In addition, the Reg categorizes vehicles into eight different classes based upon the GVWR, classifying “light-duty” vehicles as those with a “GVWR less than or equal to 8,500 lbs.” to “Class 8” vehicles as those with a “GVWR greater than 33,000 [pounds].” (Reg, § 2013, subd. (b)(A)-(H) [weight class definition].)
Critical to the Fleet Session was the discussion that public agencies may comply with the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg through one of two options, referred to as “schedules.” One schedule is time-based (default), while the other is milestone-based.
The Fleet Session panelists discussed some of the relatively narrow exemptions to the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, such as those for heavy cranes and dedicated snow removal equipment. (Reg, § 2013, subd. (c).) However, both panelists and audience members expressed hope that the emergency vehicle exemption – currently applying only to life-saving vehicles (i.e., ambulances) and fire apparatus – will undergo expansion to include additional vehicles owned and operated by water service purveyors, like ACWA members, given the essential public purposes such agencies provide.
Finally, each panelist independently stressed the importance of planning for the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg’s implementation for various reasons, including the following:
Panelists included personnel from ACWA member agencies Metropolitan Water District and Truckee Donner Public Utility District, as well as personnel from Pacific Gas & Electric. Terra Verde moderated the panel, keeping the audience engaged with industry-related puns and opportunities to propose questions to the panel. Somach Simmons & Dunn appreciates ACWA’s commitment to excellent content at its semi-annual conferences and representation of its clients’ interests through its various committees.
CARB held the initial public hearing for the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg last year on October 27, 2022. ACWA submitted public comments on the Reg, proposing substantive revisions and suggesting real-world considerations. CARB staff proposed revisions to the Reg in March 2023, and public comment on the revisions closed on April 7, 2023. On April 17, 2023, CARB released the final text of the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, which is available here. If you have any questions regarding the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, please contact:
Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice. In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.
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