EPA Jump-Starts Cleaner Trucks Initiative

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler took steps to advance the Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI) on January 6 as he announced new rulemaking to establish more stringent emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other pollutants for highway heavy-duty engines.

Through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the EPA is seeking input from the public and interested stakeholders.

“A strong and resilient trucking industry is imperative to maintaining a strong and resilient economy,” Wheeler said. “Through this initiative, we will modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment. The United States has made major reductions in NOx emissions, but through this initiative we will continue to reduce emissions, while spurring innovative new technologies, ensuring heavy-duty trucks are clean and remain a competitive method of transportation.”

The rulemaking will offer opportunities to streamline and improve certification procedures to reduce costs for engine manufacturers. This action follows on the petitions from more than 20 organizations, including state and local air agencies, to revise and promulgate more stringent NOx standards.

From 2007 to 2017, U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent, but there is more work to be done. More than 100 million people live in areas of nonattainment for ozone and particulate matter (PM), and, according to EPA estimates, heavy-duty vehicles will continue to be one of the largest contributors to NOx emissions — a precursor of ozone and PM formation — from the transportation sector in 2025.

The goal is for these standards to provide results in significant mobile source NOx reductions, which will aid communities across the country in achieving ozone and PM attainment with the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards program.

The EPA last revised NOx standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines in January 2001. Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the CTI will provide manufacturers sufficient time to comply with new standards and ensure that updated standards consider feasible emissions control technologies.

“The EPA’s announcement on the Cleaner Trucks Initiative is a productive step toward updating standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter,” said Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies Executive Director Jason Sloan.

The EPA intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2020.

NGWA is monitoring this item as it impacts groundwater professionals who operate fleets of vehicles — like drilling rigs, pump hoists, and service trucks.