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EPA launches Cleaner Trucks Initiative update nitrogen oxide emission standards for heavy-duty trucks

EPA launches Cleaner Trucks Initiative update nitrogen oxide emission standards for heavy-duty trucks
USEPA photo by Eric Vance

WASHINGTON — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler Tuesday launched the Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI) designed to further decrease nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines.

The CTI will include a future rulemaking that will update the existing NOx standard which was last set in 2001, while also streamlining compliance and certification requirements.

“The Cleaner Trucks Initiative will help modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and providing cleaner air for all Americans,” Wheeler said. “The U.S. has made major reductions in NOx emissions, but it’s been nearly 20 years since EPA updated these standards. Through rulemaking and a comprehensive review of existing requirements, we will capitalize on these gains and incentivize new technologies to ensure our heavy-duty trucks are clean and remain a competitive method of transportation.”

EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum said Tuesday’s announcement made it clear that reducing NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles is a clean air priority for the Trump administration.

“EPA’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative is an important signal to all interested stakeholders that we will work hard on reducing emissions while producing a more effective and efficient program,” he said.

Officials at the Truckload Carriers Association, the American Trucking Associations the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association praised the initiative.

“The Truckload Carriers Association supports the initiative that is being undertaken by EPA in creating one federal standard for our entire nation to follow,” said David Heller, vice president of government affairs at TCA. “The truckload industry, made up of carriers of all sizes, certainly applauds the efforts of the EPA to make compliance easier so that our environment can benefit, our economy can continue to thrive and add additional consistency to rules that are promulgated by the federal government.”

“We appreciate participating in EPA’s roundtable discussion focused on existing NOx standards and possible changes to those standards,” said Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s director of public relations. “We look forward to reviewing the details as more information becomes available.  We also made it a point to remind EPA that small-business truckers make up a substantial portion of the trucking industry and any proposed federal mandate must consider potential impacts to this critical segment of trucking.  Clean air is a priority for everyone, but the technology used to accomplish this goal must be affordable and reliable.”

“As an industry engaged in interstate commerce, ATA strongly favors a single national emission pathway as opposed to a patchwork of state standards,” said ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan. “Clean air and a healthy environment are important to all of us, and the trucking industry has repeatedly demonstrated that it can work proactively and in partnership with the federal government in achieving these aims. We look forward to working with the EPA in developing a standard that achieves nationwide air quality improvements across the country while maintaining a strong and robust economy.”

Sullivan said ATA and EPA have a long history of successful, collaborative efforts to improve air quality, including the EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership, and the association said it looked forward to continuing that relationship.

“Clean air is an issue that affects all of us,” said ATA Vice President, Energy & Environmental Affairs Counsel Glen Kedzie. “ATA has worked with EPA in the past to make sure emissions standards – like the current NOx rule and Phase II of the greenhouse gas emissions rules for heavy-duty vehicles – are not just achievable, but that they are indeed achieved. ATA and its members are constantly purchasing newer, cleaner, more efficient vehicles, and as a result we have achieved historic reductions in emissions of all kinds. That is a track record we are not only proud of but that we look forward to continuing into the future.”

Daimler Trucks North America also expressed support for the initiative.

“DTNA looks forward to working with the EPA on the Cleaner Truck Initiative,” said Sean Waters, director of regulatory compliance. “We are confident that the Cleaner Air Initiative will provide real work emission reductions, streamline certification and compliance, and continue to enable us to provide vehicles with the best total cost of ownership.

Waters said over the past 20 years, DTNA had demonstrated a strong commitment to the reduction of NOx and particulate emissions and has steadily reduced its NOx emissions by over 90 percent and particulate emissions over 98 percent.

From 2007 to 2017, U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent, but there is more work to be done. It is estimated that heavy-duty trucks will be responsible for one-third of NOx emissions from the transportation sector in 2025. EPA expects that any update to the standards will result in significant mobile source NOx reductions, which will aid communities across the country in the attainment of ozone and particulate matter standards.

EPA last revised NOx standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines in January 2001. The Agency is not required by statue to update the standard. EPA intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2020.

In addition to NOx emissions standards, Wheeler said the CTI will cut unnecessary red tape while simplifying certification of compliance requirements for heavy-duty trucks and engines. Areas of deregulatory focus will include onboard diagnostic requirements, cost-effective means of reassuring real world compliance by using modern and advanced technologies, the deterioration factor testing process, and concerns regarding annual recertification of engine families.

“Working together with partners in states and industry, we can achieve environmental results through the pursuit of commonsense regulations that encourage economic growth,” Wheeler said. “New programs borne out of the CTI offer opportunities to streamline regulations through smarter program design and reduce the overall regulatory burden while protecting human health and the environment.”

Learn more about the Cleaner Trucks Initiative here at https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/cleaner-truck-initiative.

The Trucker News Staff

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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