EPA Cleaner Truck Initiative Seeks to Cut Heavy-Duty Truck Pollution

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EPA Cleaner Truck Initiative Seeks to Cut Heavy-Duty Truck Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its “Cleaner Truck Initiative” to assist in decreasing NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks and other on-highway engines late last month. The goal is to reduce emissions and “cut unnecessary red tape while simplifying certification of compliance requirements.”

The agency seeks a 50-state rule, the first new rule since 2001, to reduce smog-forming pollution and stems from a December 2016 petition from more than 20 state and local air agencies and environmental groups.

What does this new rule mean for the trucking industry?

The EPA noted that NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent from 2007 to 2017, with much of that reduction attributed to the introduction of low-sulfur diesel fuel and diesel particulate filters that trap and break down particulates before the exhaust is released into the air. Using this as an example, the trucking industry can expect to see new regulations in manufacturing and continued efforts towards alternative fuel sources and other technological advances in engine efficiency.

The proposed 50-state standard would also make it much easier for trucking manufacturers to comply with regulations and technological trends in design. The American Trucking Association (ATA) “strongly favors a single national emission pathway as opposed to a patchwork of state standards,” the group said in a statement.

When will the rule go into effect?

The EPA said it would work with heavy-duty truck and engine manufacturers, technology suppliers and truck fleets, on the new standards. Expected publishing of the proposed rule is 2020 with implementation in 2024.

“The Cleaner Trucks Initiative will help bring today’s generation of advanced diesel technology nearer to zero emissions than ever,” the EPA said in a statement. “This initiative will help modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and providing cleaner air for all Americans,” added EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Even with the efforts to reduce NOx output, the agency estimates that heavy-duty trucks would account for 1/3 of NOx emissions from the transportation sector in 2025, which only serves as an inhibitor for the Clean Air Initiative and technological advancements in the industry.