CARB enforcement reforms signed into law

Californians for Enforcement Reform and Transparency (CERT) announced Sept. 30 that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1402 (SB 1402) into law on Sept. 28. SB 1402 immediately requires the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) enforcement program to be transparent, consistent and fair. CERT members applaud the Governor for signing this good government bill into law. 

“We’re glad to see the bill signed so quickly and look forward to working with CARB to implement this bill,” said John Dunlap, former CARB chairman and current CERT member. “These reforms will help change the perception that CARB’s penalties are arbitrary and inconsistent, which will help restore the faith of the California business community.”

CERT is a diverse group of industries and trade associations — including the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) — with the goal of working cooperatively with CARB to enhance its compliance and enforcement programs.

“OPEI is pleased to see this important measure become law,” said OPEI EVP Kris Kiser. “OPEI looks forward to continuing its long-term partnership with CARB and the U.S. EPA to create a transparent, fair and even playing field where there is strong enforcement against gross violations from non-compliant products.”

Senator Bob Dutton, the incoming Republican Senate leader who drafted and sponsored the legislation, said, “CARB holds businesses accountable when they violate the California regulations they oversee. The problem is that there was nothing that held CARB accountable in how the penalties were determined or the reason for the violation. This important piece of legislation is a significant step in the right direction in showing the business community that the state of California is willing to work with them.”

CARB is charged with attaining and maintaining air-quality standards in the state of California, which includes the enforcement of air-quality standards. Currently, it is not clear whether and how CARB applies criteria or policies when it assesses penalties. This resulted in a subjective, ad hoc enforcement program that did not clearly or consistently distinguish serious violations that harm air quality from minor administrative glitches. 

With the exception of a formal penalty policy, which CARB is required to publish by March 1, 2011, SB 1402 takes effect immediately. The new rules will require CARB to do the following:

Provide a clear explanation of how penalties are assessed on a per-unit basis
Develop a written, consistent penalty policy that ensures the largest penalties are imposed on serious violations that adversely impact air quality (due March 2011)
Report those penalties to the Legislature annually

For more information on CERT and its positions, go to