OTA wants more details to Drive Clean program

TORONTO, (Aug. 10, 2004) — The Ontario Trucking Association says there’s been a lack of information on the effectiveness of the province’s heavy-duty Drive Clean program, and is asking Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky for a cost-benefit analysis.

OTA chief David Bradley is meeting with the minister to discuss the future of the program — which is up for review in 2006/07 — and to request a copy of a Pollution Probe report updating the historical past-fail rates for heavy trucks.

“OTA’s long-standing position regarding the periodic component of the Drive Clean testing program for trucks is that the costs — measured in equipment downtime and testing fees — far outweigh any environmental benefit,” said Bradley, who once called Ontario’s Drive Clean “the most cost ineffective program the Government of Ontario currently operates.”

Bradley pointed out that the Ontario Environmental Commissioner’s 2001/2002 Annual Report supports the view that the program needs to become more transparent. He said the ministry should give the public full access to the underlying assumptions that are being used to predict the effectiveness of the Drive Clean program. Periodic technical reviews of the program’s effectiveness should also be available for public scrutiny and comment, he said.

In January the Ota successfully lobbied the government to reward truckers that go above and beyond the new benchmarks by allowing them to test their vehicles every two years instead of annually. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles which surpass (are equal to or lower than) the standard of 20 per cent opacity are exempted from an emissions test in the following year. Vehicles that meet the Drive Clean standard but still emit opacity greater than 20 per cent will continue to require tests annually.

The OTA says that 98 per cent of the province’s trucks are passing the current standard and the association is confident that 95 per cent will still pass with the new regs.

While a that was a victory for truckers, the OTA said at the time it will continue to challenge the program, adding it has a “strong case” to support a proposal to eliminate the program entirely.

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