In an effort to reduce airborne diesel pollution, the California Air Resources Board has adopted a "no idling" rule for in-use off-road diesel-fueled vehicles, limiting idling for such vehicles to no more than 5 minutes.  The new rule will go into effect June 16, 2008.  This rule adds to a host of other off-road diesel-fueled vehicle regulations to reduce diesel particulate matter and criteria pollutant emissions.

The idling rule applies to any person, business, or government agency in California that owns, rents, lease, operates, or sells any diesel-fueled off-road compression ignition vehicle engine with 25 horsepower or greater.  Examples of such vehicles include fork lifts, skip loaders, and cranes.

The new regulation states that no off-road diesel vehicle or engine may idle for more than 5 consecutive minutes, with the exception of the following:

1. Idling when queuing,

2. Idling to verify that the vehicle is in safe operating condition,

3. Idling for testing, servicing, repairing or diagnostic purposes,

4. Idling necessary to accomplish work for which the vehicle was designed (such as operating a crane),

5. Idling required to bring the machine system to operating temperature, and

6. Idling necessary to ensure safe operation of the vehicle.

If idling for longer than 5 consecutive minutes is necessary beyond the exemptions outlined above, the fleet owner may apply for a waiver, showing sufficient justification, to allow additional idling.

Specifically exempted from the regulation are locomotives, commercial marine vessels, marine engines, recreational vehicles, or combat and tactical support equipment. The regulation also does not cover stationary or portable equipment, or equipment or vehicles used exclusively in agricultural operations.  Off-road diesel vehicles owned and operated by an individual for personal, non-commercial, and non-governmental purposes are also exempt.

For more information please contact Olivier Theard and Kyndra Casper.  Mr. Theard practices in the Business Trial Practice Group and Environmental Litigation Practice Group in the Los Angeles office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP.  Ms. Casper is an associate in the Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Practice Group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.