DC Agrees With TRALA Request to Drop Diesel Ban

TRALA and several of its allies have successfully fought to have language removed from District of Columbia (DC) legislation that would have banned new diesel-powered motor vehicles from operating in the District. The "Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013" contained language that would not have allowed diesel-powered vehicles to be registered in DC unless the vehicle had previously been registered in DC, effective January 1, 2018. In theory, this prohibition, in combination with proposed tax credits for businesses that convert to alternative-fueled vehicles would improve air quality in DC. However, TRALA and its allies felt that this kind of legislation was unnecessary and counterproductive, because it would have banned new diesel-powered trucks that comply with strict federal emissions standards and run on ultra-low sulfur diesel.
Following the release of the proposed legislation, TRALA, American Trucking Associations (ATA), American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA), and Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) wrote to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to express serious concerns about banning new diesel-powered vehicles from operating in DC. Perhaps the biggest concern about the diesel vehicle ban stemmed from the way the International Registration Plan (IRP) for commercial trucks operating in interstate commerce functions. Even if a commercial motor vehicle is base-plated in a jurisdiction other than DC, but still has DC as an authorized jurisdiction on its cab card, the new diesel-powered vehicle still will not be allowed to travel in DC because a vehicle registered under the IRP is actually registered in and by each IRP member in which it is authorized to travel. So new diesel-powered vehicles from anywhere in the U.S. that had never before had DC on its cab card would have been banned from DC. Thus, interstate commerce would have been severely impacted by the legislation that was originally proposed.
Following receipt of the coalition's letter, several stakeholders met with senior staff from the DC Council's Finance and Revenue Committee, which was assigned jurisdiction over that section of the legislation. The coalition and the Finance and Revenue Committee agreed that the best course of action was to remove prohibitive language regarding the operation of diesel-powered vehicles, but to leave tax incentives for those who choose to voluntarily use alternative-fueled vehicles. This legislative language was later added to the DC Council's budget for Fiscal Year 2015, and the agreement to drop the prohibitive language barring diesel vehicles but preserve the tax incentives for alternative-fueled vehicles was eventually added.
The budget bill is not final and is still "under consideration" by the DC Council, however, the DC City Council's agreement to remove the diesel ban is a very positive development.
For questions, contact TRALA's Joe Sculley at or by calling (703) 299-9120.