Stricter EPA rules might affect trucking

THE Environmental Protection Agency has found that 474 counties nationwide have failed to meet its tougher ozone standards. Counties in violation are required to outline a plan to meet requirements by set deadlines, which vary to allow extended time to the severest of counties.

Glen Kedzie, environmental council for the American Trucking Associations, said this means states will be more likely to adopt costly fuel blends as a result.

“The ATA's major concern is that states now have more incentive to adopt specialty fuel blends to reduce NOx (nitrogen oxides). We'd rather have one national fuel standard because they tend to drive up prices and bring down fuel economy,” Kedzie said.

There is no viable NOx-reduction technology to retrofit older engines, he said. Therefore, the ATA predicts the impact on the freight industry will be limited to pump prices.

Glenn Goldstein, program director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, believes states may target idling to reduce NOx.

“Our sense is that state voluntary initiatives will continue. The best thing to do is to find ways to zero in on idling engines. There could be expansions on anti-idling initiatives using shore power, for significant reductions of NOx,” Goldstein said.

John Millett, EPA spokesman, said existing plans for reduced-sulfur standards in diesel set to be implemented in mid-2006 coupled with new 2007 engine standards will result in ozone reductions that will ease the burden on local governments and trucking companies.

“States will factor that in their plans. The impact on trucking is going to vary from place to place, depending on how much transportation plays a role in certain states,” Millett said, speculating that more emissions testing and interaction may occur between states and freight companies.

The EPA advises local governments in non-compliance to take a number of actions including “additional planning requirements for transportation sources.” This may translate to local governments paying more attention to commercial driving, especially for counties that have failed EPA standards for the first time.

For the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the EPA's upping of smog standards will present little impact on its regulatory focus, Gennet Paauwe, CARB spokeswoman, said. However, Paauwe did indicate that more stringent standards put more pressure on CARB as well as the EPA.

After local governments outline a plan to meet the new standards, it will then be submitted to the state for approval. The EPA makes the final approval.

“There are no specifics at this early date to say how the US EPA changes will affect truck drivers/owners in particular,” Paauwe said.

Nationally, freight accounts for between 10% to 25% of ozone emissions, according to EPA estimates.

The tougher ozone standard — 0.08 parts per million over eight hours — replaces the previous one-hour standard that has been in place since 1979.

Under the new standard, 138 counties have failed EPA guidelines for the first time. No first-time states have been noted as non-compliant, according to Millet.

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