U.S. EPA to advance plan to cut heavy-duty truck emissions


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce Monday it is seeking public input as it works on new rules to significantly decrease emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) and other pollutants from heavy-duty trucks.

FILE PHOTO: An empty podium awaits the arrival of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to address staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ting Shen/File Photo

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is holding an event at a livestock exchange in Marshall, Virginia to announce the agency will propose limits early this year. On Monday, the agency is issuing an advanced notice for a formal regulatory action.

“We will modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment,” Wheeler said in a statement.

The EPA said the forthcoming proposal, which will apply to future models, will offer “opportunities to streamline and improve certification procedures to reduce costs for engine manufacturers.”

Over 100 million people in the United States live in areas of non-attainment for ozone and particulate matter, the EPA noted, adding heavy-duty vehicles are one of the largest contributors to NOx emissions – a precursor of ozone and particulate matter formation – from the transportation sector.

The EPA last toughened NOx standards for highway heavy-duty trucks and engines in 2000.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been moving to set new stricter state emissions limits on NOx. A spokeswoman said Friday the agency is planning a public hearing this spring.

To meet national ambient air quality standards, California’s South Coast Air Basin will require an approximately 70% NOx reduction from 2019 levels by 2023, CARB said.

California wants nationwide rules in part because 60% of truck travel in the state is from trucks registered in other states.

NOx emissions are linked to significant health impacts and can exacerbate asthma attacks, the EPA has said.

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, which represents companies including Cummins Inc, Navistar International Corp and Daimler Trucks North America, backs the effort to revise standards and has said it wants a national program with “sufficient regulatory lead time, stability and certainty.”

In the aftermath of Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) light-duty diesel emissions scandal, in which the German automaker admitted to secretly using software to evade emissions rules, the EPA has taken steps to insure that diesel cars and SUVs are meeting emissions requirements in on-road use.

In December 2016, under the President Barack Obama administration, the EPA acknowledged in response to petitions “a need for additional NOx reductions from on-highway heavy-duty engines, particularly in areas of the country with elevated levels of air pollution.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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