Thursday, 13 December, 2018

EPA seeks to rewrite truck emissions rules

Trucks lined up at a demonstration in Washington in October.  Bloomberg via Getty Images Trucks lined up at a demonstration in Washington in October
Cary Marshall | 17 November, 2018, 02:54

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled plans Tuesday to develop next-generation regulations to reduce a key pollutant from heavy-duty diesel trucks, but officials offered no details on what those changes will entail.

In a conference call with reporters, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the "Clean Truck Initiative" in a move that air regulators and the trucking industry have advocated for years.

The EPA will begin the process of writing a proposed rule, according to the announcement Tuesday.

"We've seen the benefits from existing technology", Bird said, "and [we] are certainly encouraged EPA is now looking at improving those standards so that future vehicles will even have better emissions profiles".

The EPA will require truck makers to reduce oxides of nitrogen, or NOX - a critical component of the two types of pollution, Wheeler said.

"Unfortunately, this administration and this leadership of the EPA do not fill us with much confidence that this will be a real air pollution reduction measure", Linhardt said.

More news: Lewis Hamilton could face Abu Dhabi engine penalty

Paul Billings of the American Lung Association said he thinks the idea is encouraging but depends on exactly what the proposal looks like. Details about the new plan are scarce and officials say that it will be 2020 before any definitive emissions rules are written.

While the agency is working on new rules for larger trucks, Wehrum said they consider this effort completely separate from efforts to reduce fuel-efficiency standards for smaller cars and trucks, which is at odds with California's higher standards.

The share of overall pollution contributed by heavy trucks has grown over the years, especially in urban areas and port cities with significant truck traffic, said Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

Another administration official said November 12 the new proposed emissions rules may not be written and announced until 2020. Obama administration officials said they planned to work with states such as California, the industry and others toward creating an updated national set of standards. California also wants nationwide rules, in part because more than half of all trucks delivering goods in the state are registered in other states. California wants the requirements to become progressively more stringent through 2026.

For now, the US and California standards match, and the auto industry fears they could be split in two, forcing them to make costly design changes for California and the other states.

In the aftermath of Volkswagen AG's light-duty diesel emissions scandal, in which the German automaker admitted to secretly using software to evade emissions rules, the EPA has taken steps to insure that diesel cars and SUVs are meeting emissions requirements in on-road use.

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