Regulators turn toward new heavy-duty engine emissions standards

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler will advance his Cleaner Trucks Initiative, outlined in November 2018, with a proposed rulemaking to establish new, more stringent oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other pollutant emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines powering on-highway trucks.

“We will modernize engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment,” said Administrator Wheeler, addressing an early-2020 gathering of trucking interests and lawmakers in Virginia. “The U.S. has made major reductions in NOx emissions, but through this initiative we will continue to reduce emissions while spurring innovative new technologies, ensuring heavy-duty trucks are clean and remain a competitive method of transportation.”

“As co-regulators under the Clean Air Act, [our] state and local members have worked diligently to improve air quality, overseeing significant decreases in the emissions and ambient concentrations of the six criteria air pollutants,” added Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies Executive Director Jason Sloan. “By seeking efficiency improvements for on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines, EPA’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative will support environmental agencies in their continued efforts to meet national air quality standards.”

“The trucking industry takes clean air seriously and has made significant strides in improving the nation’s air quality,” noted American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan. “Since 1985, newly manufactured trucks have reduced NOx emissions by over 98 percent but our work is not yet done. These reductions have been possible because the EPA has worked with stakeholders to help institute standards that are feasible, achievable and reasonable. The industry seeks one national, harmonized NOx emissions standard that will result in positive environmental progress while not compromising truck performance.”

“The Cleaner Trucks Initiative is part of the EPA’s efforts to simplify complex regulations and protect our environment,” added Congressman Denver Riggleman (VA-05). “This update to emission standards will help reduce harmful emissions while providing savings for consumers, including constituents in my district.”

“This program will deliver important air quality and public health benefits while growing American jobs and international competitiveness in the market for advanced technology components installed on the cleanest, most fuel efficient, and durable trucks. [Our] members are committed to working with EPA and all stakeholders to realize this important vision for the next generation of ultra-clean heavy-duty vehicles,” said Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association Executive Director Rasto Brezny.

“Problems with earlier rulemakings have left small-business truckers justifiably wary of new emissions reduction proposals,” observed Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer. “However, over the last year, representatives of the EPA have gone to great lengths to fully understand how new policies may affect our members, which wasn’t standard practice under previous administrations. OOIDA believes the agency’s desire to avoid the mistakes of the past is genuine. We’re hopeful our ongoing conversations with EPA and the feedback our members will soon provide during the [rulemaking] comment period will lead to the development of an acceptable new standard.”

“A strong new national standard has the potential to create significant investment in American jobs and manufacturing, cost-effectively reduce harmful emissions in the nation’s most populated areas in a timely fashion, and help deploy American-developed advanced control technologies here and around the world,” concluded Advanced Engine Systems Institute Executive Director Chris Miller.

The rulemaking will usher opportunities for engine manufacturers to streamline and improve certification procedures to reduce costs. It follows on the petitions from over 20 organizations, including state and local air agencies, to revise and promulgate more stringent NOx standards. From 2007 to 2017, U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent, yet more work remains as more than 100 million people live in areas of nonattainment for ozone and particulate matter levels. Pending Cleaner Trucks Initiative actions, heavy-duty vehicles will continue to be one of the largest contributors to NOx emissions, a precursor of ozone and PM formation.