California Trucking Association Sues District For Undermining Federal Air Quality Regulations

On Thursday, the California Trucking Association filed a complaint against the South Coast Air Quality Management District and its Governing Board for allegedly violating several federal laws and rules to over-regulate the trucking industry at the state level.

The plaintiffs claimed that “the District has seized for itself powers reserved to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) under what the United States Supreme Court has already declared to be ‘Congress’s carefully calibrated regulatory scheme.’” 

In the complaint, the association argued that the defendant’s proposed Rule 2305 “is nominally styled as a lawful indirect source review (ISR) rule” which does not address “vehicle trips from workers coming to or leaving the site, the construction equipment used in developing new warehouses, the length of trips to and from the warehouse, or any direct emissions from the warehouse itself.” 

The plaintiff noted that “by necessity and design, (Rule 2305) is entirely about the trucks.” Localities and states are preempted from creating rules that control emissions from new motor vehicles by the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA). The latter law was designed to prevent states from “undermining federal regulation of interstate trucking’ through a ‘patchwork’ of state regulations.”

The plaintiffs argued that due to the CAA and FAAAA’s authority, the local and state authorities are attempting to preempt them which is in violation of federal law and an undermining of the EPA’s authority. Only federal authorities can regulate “new” motor vehicles and carriers, which Rule 2305 is allegedly trying to subvert since the Rule would heavily incentivize discarding current trucks and replacing them with near-zero emission or zero emission trucks. 

According to the complaint, the Supervisor of the Governing Board said that this Rule was “all about the trucks.” As a result, the plaintiffs are suing for violations of the CAA, FAAAA, violation of the authority and taxation of state laws.

The California Trucking Association is seeking declaratory and permanent injunctive relief nullifying Rules 2305 and 316, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by Holland & Knight, LLP.