Hearing Focuses on Truck Emissions, Fuel Economy Rules

CHICAGO, IL – Regulators got an earful this week when it comes to a proposed second phase of commercial truck greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards in the U.S., which Canada is expected to follow.

Environmental, health, industry and science representatives testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during a hearing in Chicago. Also there was the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology.

“For all parties, the challenge of further increasing fuel efficiency while maintaining or improving environmental, safety and productivity of commercial vehicles is as important as it is complex,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of DTF. “To be successful, the final outcome here must build on the success already accomplished in achieving near-zero emissions with today’s new clean diesel technology, and drive continued innovation while ensuring that the end products are highly desired by customers.”

As EPA works to develop the final Phase 2 rules, Schaeffer said it is important that the rule meet several criteria.

  • Be a national program uniform to all 50 states including California,
  • Remain fuel neutral in nature; provide ample lead time and stability,
  • Be compatible with the needs and complexities of the diverse marketplace.
  • Be mindful of the other requirements placed on industry relative to environmental and safety requirements of commercial vehicles,
  • Harmonize standards to the greatest extent possible, and
  • Carefully consider the longstanding trade-off between NOx and CO2 emissions.

“Now achieving near zero emissions, clean diesel technology powers the overwhelming majority of medium and commercial trucks today and thanks to these improvements is poised to continue as the prime powertrain technology for commercial vehicles in the future,” Schaeffer said. “The engine may look and perform somewhat differently, and may be burning different kinds of low carbon fuels. But in the end, it will still be a diesel engine and an integral component of meeting the needs of a growing economy and a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

Schaeffer explained that diesel will continue to be the technology of choice because it offers an unmatched combination of power, increasing energy efficiency, work capability, reliability and now near-zero emissions environmental performance, along with an ability to utilize a variety of low-carbon renewable diesel fuels.

He said that since 2000, the leaders in clean diesel technology and the EPA have worked cooperatively in establishing a regulatory pathway that brought about the introduction of an entire new generation of clean diesel engines for both on- and off-road applications.

“Manufacturers have met the challenge to virtually eliminate both NOx and particulate emissions from diesel engines, reducing emissions by as much as 98 percent from previous levels,” Schaeffer said. “These new technology clean diesel engines are being widely embraced by customers as evidenced by the increasing penetration into the vehicle population.”

It is estimated this next phase of regulations will increase the cost of a new truck by around $12,000 while some groups have raised concerns about the reliability of future technology.

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, U.S. state vehicle registration data for 2014 shows of the roughly 9.2 million Class 3-8 heavy-duty vehicles on the road in the country, about 38 percent, or 3.4 million vehicles are deployed with a 2007 or newer model year engine.

Of these, 20 percent or roughly 1.9 million vehicles on the road meet the 2010 emissions milestone that requires near zero levels of both particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, Schaeffer said.

DTF cited date from the Fuels Institute, a think tank dedicated toward vehicles and fuels, showing by 2023 diesel engines will power between 95 percent and 97 percent of all medium and heavy duty vehicles despite the introduction of alternative fuels and powertrains, including all-electric, fuel cell and continued introduction of natural gas powered vehicles.

The second hearing about the proposed regulations is scheduled for Aug. 18 in Los Angeles.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.