Navistar and EPA reach agreement over 2010 engine suit

WARRENVILLE, Ill. — Navistar reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which will see the truckmaker’s lawsuit dropped in favour of a public workshop or hearing regarding SCR-equipped diesel engines.

The agreement is similar to one that Navistar recently worked out with the California Air Resources Board.

Navistar had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to void EPA’s certification polices for SCR-equipped trucks because they had been adopted by the EPA without the public process required by law, but instead following input only from the SCR engine makers.

As it’s well known, Navistar decided to continue with EGR to meet 2010 NOx reduction levels. In March, Navistar’s MaxxForce DT mid-range diesel engines and MaxxForce 13 big bore diesel engines were certified by the EPA for model year 2010.

Meanwhile all its competitors went with SCR, which requires the injection of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to be injected into the aftertreatment system from an on-board tank.

In its appeal, Navistar charged that EPA is using certification policies to allow SCR- equipped diesel powered trucks to operate for extended periods without any control of NOx emissions and is certifying SCR engines as meeting NOx emission requirements when they do not. Navistar likens this allowance to a "licence to pollute."

Navistar is referring to SCR engines’ "ramp shutdown" feature, which systematically degrades engine torque power to allow drivers to "limp" temporarily into a nearby DEF fueling station in rare situations that the DEF tank runs dry. If the tank is not filled, the truck will eventually shut down.

SCR engine manufacturers counter that Navistar is grossly exaggerating the risk, saying that a trucker running out of DEF on the highway will be as likely as  running out of fuel; and that filling up with DEF will be as common as topping up with "windshield washer fluid." 

However, the agreement reached yesterday provides that EPA will “engage in a public process to re-examine its policies, for future 2011 and later model year engines” during which it will “provide a thorough review of EPA’s policies regarding operation of SCR-equipped engines.”

Based on this language, it’s possible the EPA could re-consider how its rule allows trucks to remain operational, albeit in an eventual power derate, if DEF tanks are allowed to run empty.

EPA also has promised to “ensure, among other things, that SCR equipped heavy-duty diesel engines are designed to properly control emissions as required under applicable regulations.”

The agreement must be published by EPA in the Federal Register for comment before it can become final.

“We are pleased with this agreement and look forward to participating in the public process,” said Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group. “We believe that with full and open public participation, EPA will develop a new approach that will result in equal enforcement of the 2010 NOx requirements for all engine makers.”

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