State Vehicles Subjected To CARB Requirements

Katy Grimes: In an interesting twist of irony, the state is now subjected to California Air Resources Board (CARB) rules for retrofitting its diesel vehicles, but at a cost of $57 million for 400 state vehicles.

The $57 million would go to buying some new, compliant vehicles as well doing the retrofits according to the Department of Finance.

The math is astounding at $142,000 per car.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) explained that a retrofit can cost $20,000 to $40,000. If each of the 400 cars was only retrofitted at the higher cost, the total outlay would be $16 million. Needless to say, the math is not clear on this budget item.

Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-San Diego (Committee Chair), asked several times during the hearing if there is a more cost effective way to accomplish the retrofits, and had some snarky words for the way the Department of General Services (DGS) spends money. “This is a DGS problem,” said Ducheny, and added, “DGS is not my favorite agency for doing something cost effectively.”

The LAO said that Cal Trans has actually bought vehicles in the past, and then had to immediately do a retrofit to comply with state regulations and emissions requirements, proving that there is precedence in reckless state spending.

Senator Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, spoke against the vehicle retrofit spending and pointed out the ridiculousness. Senator Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, argued against the cost and said that diesel retrofit  requirements can cost nearly two-times the cost of the vehicle. Huff added, “We created the regulations and now have to follow through ourselves.”

Both Dutton and Huff expressed concern that the legislature might approve the  spending and then CARB could change the regulations once the retrofits were completed.

Dutton was critical of the state always taking a “gold standard” approach, instead of using reasonable, affordable methods.

Huff suggested that Legislators “overthrow all of CARB,” otherwise the state too is “stuck” with the fiscal impacts of decisions made by the legislature, as is the case with the impositions of California’s global warming legislation (AB 32).

Ducheny agreed that the subject needs more research but warned that “not everything can stay open,” and urged the Department of Finance and LAO to provide additional information quickly.

Cal Watchdog will be following up on this as well, hopefully before this spending is squeezed into another bill…

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