U.S. EPA announces Cleaner Trucks Initiative, a plan which would impose more stringent emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks

U.S. EPA announces plan to update existing NOx standards for heavy-duty trucks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans early this week to further decrease nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines. Dubbed the “Cleaner Trucks Initiative”, it will involve a future rulemaking to update the existing NOx standard. The EPA intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2020.

Two years ago, 20 state and local air regulators, backed by public health groups, petitioned the agency to revamp its regulations of NOx, citing adverse effects on health and air quality.

“The Cleaner Trucks Initiative will help modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and providing cleaner air for all Americans,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.“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.”

From 2007 to 2017, U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40%, but there is more work to be done, the agency said. 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 statute to update the standard.

In addition to NOx emissions standards, 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.

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) said it supports the EPA initiative.

“EPA’s proposed Cleaner Trucks Initiative provides the opportunity to move from a prescriptive-based compliance program to one that is performance-based,” said EMA President Jed Mandel. “By doing so, we can achieve deeper real-world NO(x) reductions, implement modern in-use compliance protocols, and streamline current redundant regulations.”

“By working together, we believe we can reduce emissions and improve and streamline the compliance program while at the same time preserve the necessary diversity of the commercial vehicle marketplace and protect the needs of our customers for durable, reliable products,” he said.

The EMA represents the world’s leading manufacturers of on-highway and non-road internal combustion engines and on-highway medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

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