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Stricter Trucking Emissions Standards May Be Coming

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is taking steps to establish even more strict regulations for truck emission standards. The EPA finalized a sweeping set of regulations aimed at cutting emissions from heavy-duty trucks four years ago, but they are now looking at new regulations to further tighten truck emissions, particularly the output of nitrogen oxide (NOx). 


EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, announced an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that is seeking input from the public and the trucking industry regarding these regulations. “The U.S. 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,” Wheeler said.


“The trucking industry touches nearly every part of our economy,” said Wheeler. “A strong and resilient trucking industry is imperative to maintaining a strong and resilient economy. Through this initiative, we will modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment."


Previous rounds of emission regulations and technologies such as exhaust after-treatment have been successful in reducing heavy-duty truck emissions of NOx and air pollutants by almost 90%. However, the EPA has not revised NOx standards since January 2001. The EPA has identified high NOx emissions during engine warm-up and idling periods and is looking at targeting these areas in the next phase of standards. Overall, NOx emissions in the U.S. have dropped by more than 40% over a decade, but heavy-duty vehicles are expected to continue to be the leading source. 


In addition to seeking feedback from the public and industry stakeholders, the EPA is looking at Canada’s emission testing program as well as California’s stringent emission standards as potential examples to follow. The EPA hopes to create a “50-state program” that will harmonize emission standards nationally. 


So far, the news of tighter NOx emission regulations is being applauded. Several environmental lobbyists and public health advocacy groups have previously petitioned the EPA to tighten up truck NOx standards. 


The American Trucking Association (ATA) is also pleased with the news. “ATA is committed to continuing to work closely with EPA on developing the next generation of low-NOx emitting trucks through the Cleaner Trucks Initiative. To this end, the trucking industry seeks one national, harmonized NOx emissions standard that will result in positive environmental progress while not compromising truck performance and delivery of the nation’s goods,” said ATA’s Bill Sullivan, executive VP of advocacy.


The EPA is expected to publish its official proposal soon. Afterward, the public and trucking industry will have 30 days to comment with input. 

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