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EPA to Update NOx Emissions Standard for Trucks

Jan. 7, 2020
Heavy-duty truck manufacturers back federal effort to set a nationwide emissions-control program for nitrogen oxide and other pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching a rulemaking period for developing new standards for decreased emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and other pollutants from heavy-duty trucks. The details of the reduction initiative are to be announced in the coming weeks, and EPA noted the new standards are supported by the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, which includes Cummins Inc., Daimler Trucks North America, Navistar International, Paccar, and Volvo Trucks, is backing the initiative.

“TEMA looks forward to working with EPA on potential improvements to the heavy-duty on-highway engine regulations that can reduce the overall costs of compliance, preserve the necessary diversity of the commercial vehicle marketplace, and protect our customers’ need for fuel-efficient, durable and reliable trucks,” stated Truck and Engine Manufacturers Assn. president Jed Mandel.

The trade association is hopeful of establishing a nationwide emissions-control program with "sufficient regulatory lead time, stability and certainty."

EPA emphasized that the new standards will apply to future heavy-duty truck models, and that the rulemaking period will offer “opportunities to streamline and improve certification procedures to reduce costs for engine manufacturers.” It will represent the first update of the NOx standards for highway heavy-duty trucks and engines since 2000.

According to the federal agency, NOx emissions are linked to significant health impacts and can exacerbate asthma attacks.

U.S. NOx emissions decreased over 40% from 2007 to 2017, but still the EPA noted over 100 million people live in areas of nonattainment for ozone and particulate matter (PM.) EPA estimates heavy-duty vehicles will continue to be one of the largest contributors to NOx emissions from the transportation sector in 2025, and that updating these standards "will result in significant mobile source NOx reductions, which will aid communities across the country in achieving ozone and particulate matter attainment with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards program."

EPA's initiative apparently is in contrast to standards being introduced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which seeks to require a 70% NOx-emissions reduction from 2019 levels by 2023.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler introduced the Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI) in November 2018. In a new statement, Wheeler said, “The trucking industry touches nearly every part of our economy,… A strong and resilient trucking industry is imperative to maintaining a strong and resilient economy. Through this initiative, we will modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment.”

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