SCAQMD Petitions U.S. EPA to Adopt an Ultra-Low Emissions Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks

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On December 20, 2016, US EPA responded to petitions submitted by 20 state and local government agencies from across the country and other organizations

June 3, 2016

Coalition Formed with 10 Local and State Clean Air Agencies Nationwide

Southland clean air officials and 10 local and state environmental agencies from across the nation today formally petitioned the federal government to adopt a tougher tailpipe emissions standard for large trucks that is 10 times more stringent than the current limit.

“In order to meet national clean air goals, we need the federal government to adopt more stringent standards for the No. 1 source of smog-forming emissions in our region -- heavy-duty trucks,” said Wayne Nastri, acting executive officer for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“For the first time, we have built a coalition of local and state environmental agencies that share a desire for a nationwide air quality solution,” Nastri said. A tougher federal truck emissions standard will benefit air quality not only in the Southland but also in many areas across the country that currently fail to meet clean air standards, he added.

The 10 signatories to the petition are:

  • Akron (Ohio) Regional Air Quality Management District;
  • Bay Area (California) Air Quality Management District;
  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection;
  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Air Quality;
  • New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services;
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection;
  • Pima County (Arizona) Department of Environmental Quality;
  • Puget Sound (Washington) Clean Air Agency;
  • Washington State Department of Ecology; and
  • Washoe County (Nevada) Health District, Air Quality Management

In addition, Placer County (California) Air Pollution Control District has submitted a letter to U.S. EPA in support of the petition.

Several SCAQMD Board members, the acting Executive Officer and staff members will travel to Washington, D.C., later this month to meet with coalition partners and supporters to brief members of Congress, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials and their respective staffs on the proposal.

Today’s action follows a March 4 vote by the SCAQMD’s Governing Board to formally petition the U.S. EPA to adopt a so-called “near-zero” or “ultra-low” emissions standard for heavy-duty truck engines that is 90 percent cleaner than the current standard.

Specifically, SCAQMD is petitioning U.S. EPA to take the following actions:

  • Develop a rule for an ultra-low nitrogen oxide (NOx) exhaust emissions standard of 0.02 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr) for on-road heavy-duty truck engines by July 2017 and adopt a final rule by Dec. 31, 2017;
  • Require ultra-low NOx truck engines to meet the 0.02 g/bhp-hr standard by Jan. 1, 2022;
  • Phase in full implementation of the ultra-low NOx standard if standard is not feasible for certain classes of vehicles and establish, if necessary, an intermediate NOx emissions standard no higher than 0.05 g/bhp-hr. Full implementation of the new ultra-low NOx standard shall occur no later than Jan. 1, 2024; and
  • Develop guidelines under the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act to provide incentives to truck owners to upgrade from a truck meeting the current 2010 NOx engine standard to a cleaner truck meeting the ultra-low NOx engine standard. Guidelines would allow for the sale and use of the older truck only in areas in attainment of the federal ozone standard.

The California Air Resources Board plans to adopt such an ultra-low NOx standard for truck engines sold in California, however most trucks operating in the state are purchased outside of California and therefore not subject to the state’s emissions standard.

Without a nationwide ultra-low NOx emissions standard, California will not be able to meet the federally mandated 8-hour ozone standard by the 2031 deadline.  Having such an emissions standard as early as possible will also help the region meet fine particulate and earlier federally-mandated ozone air quality standards with a 2023 deadline.

Achieving the ozone standards will require about a 50 percent further reduction of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, beyond all current regulations, by 2023 and about 15 percent beyond that by 2031.

If California adopts a near-zero emissions standard for heavy-duty truck engines but U.S. EPA fails to do so, NOx emissions from trucks will decline only by about 30 percent 14 years after such a standard is adopted. If CARB and EPA both adopt the standard, truck emissions in the state will decline by about 70 percent during the same time frame.

During the past three years, SCAQMD led the effort to develop a near-zero emission compressed natural gas engine for refuse-hauling trucks. The 8.9-liter engine, produced by Cummins Westport Inc., was certified last year by CARB and is commercially available today. SCAQMD now is working with Cummins Westport and other partners to develop a larger near-zero emission engine suitable for larger heavy-duty tractor trucks used primarily to move freight throughout the region and the rest of the nation.

“Cleaner truck technology exists,” Nastri said. “We need the federal government to adopt a tougher heavy-duty truck engine standard nationwide.”

A copy of the petition and its exhibits can be viewed at:

NOx Petition to EPA

Petition Attachments

SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.