By Russ and Tiña De Maris
In early March we reported on the new pollution-reduction rule-making going on in California. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been tasked by law to create new rules. These apply to diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or more. Under the proposed rule, ANY vehicle meeting that criteria, including motorhomes, will be required to undergo periodic emissions testing. After a lot of “intervention” from industry groups, CARB is retreating – a little. Out-of-state motorhomes are exempt.
Three-days-OK shut down
Prior to backing off, CARB indicated it could be expansive and allow non-residents with big diesel motorhomes to cross into the Golden State. Then they could stay without the need for testing. The catch was, they could only stay for 72 hours. It’s hard to imagine much of a visit to California and holding it down to three days. But that was the thinking for CARB rule-drafters.
So when industry-types got wind of the smog stand, it must have rung a bell. The RV Industry Association (RVIA) and campground owners’ associations both in California and on the national level created a stink about the testing plan. One letter from the California RV dealers’ association struck a responsive chord. Using expressions like, “catastrophic impacts not only to rural economy dollars, but the overall economic health of California” and “California will be mocked as having created a system where we make perpetrators out of tourists and subscribe to an infrastructure that enforces the three-day rule” must have stung.
Money talks. Evidently pride does as well. CARB now says motorhomes are exempt from the testing regimen. No three-days-OK permits, no “tailpipe intrusions” and no hooking up a black box to OBD ports. Motorhoming vacationers trying to get a vacation break get a break from intrusive testing. The fine print in the contract does say the visiting motorhomes must be non-commercial in nature to avoid the testing.
Where does this leave Californians?
Where does this leave California folks with big diesel motorhomes? Right where they were to start with. Some say that the bill was aimed at curbing commercial truck emissions. Regardless of legislative intent, if your big motorhome is registered in California, you’ll be looking at mandatory testing. Striking a conciliatory note, RVIA says this of the rule’s effect: “This should not be burdensome to California motorhome owners, as it will mirror to a great degree the ‘smog check’ they already must pass with their light-duty cars and trucks.”
That’s easy for the RVIA to say, since it’s not likely many of its board of directors have California-registered motorhomes in their back yards. One can only imagine a certain amount of grousing by Californians. You’ll be required to have one more piece of paperwork – a registration with CARB or similar agency. And you get to pay for it. Once a year you’ll have to lumber your motorhome out of the parking spot and head over to the inspection station. This probably won’t be as easy as getting your pickup smog checked. Instead of using those same “smog check stations” located in every quadrant of the California galaxy, it’s more likely you’ll have to take your rig to a truck stop for the check. Non-California motorhomes are exempt – you’re not.
Editor’s Note: For a look at the CARB rule in progress, follow this link.