EPA revises emissions guidance
Navistar continues legal challenge over SCR
Under legal pressure from Navistar, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revised its 2010 engine emissions guidance regarding the number of miles and hours a vehicle using selective catalytic reduction technology can operate after the diesel exhaust fluid is exhausted. The original guidance issued in February 2009 required engine performance to be degraded after a truck travels 2,000 miles or 40 hours on an empty DEF tank. The revision removes this provision and eliminates specific limits on mileage or time trucks should operate with empty DEF tanks.
Navistar sued EPA over that guidance, saying that the agency could not allow SCR without an opportunity for public comment, such as through a formal rulemaking process. The truck maker, which is not using SCR to comply with 2010 emissions-reduction rules, argued that EPA’s regulation in 2001 stated that SCR would not be feasible.
In October, EPA asked a federal appeals court for a 60-day stay to halt legal proceedings, saying it would be reconsidering the guidance. The court rejected EPA’s request, but the agency reissued the guidance anyway. In a Dec. 30, 2009, letter to engine manufacturers, Karl Simon, director of compliance and innovative strategies at EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, explained the revision as clarification in a misunderstanding of the intent of the guidance.
“Because some prescriptive language in CISD-09-04 may have led to confusion regarding our intent that the document be used as guidance, rather than setting forth binding requirements, I believe it is appropriate to provide a new document providing revised guidance regarding certification of heavy-duty diesel engines using SCR,” Simon said.
In a supplemental brief filed last month, Navistar said that if the new guidance supercedes the old, “the result is nevertheless the same.” The truck maker contends that the new guidance merely renames the previous “certification requirements” as “possible approaches” and substitutes the words “reasonably short” mileage for the specific mileage during which no NOx control is required. Navistar argues the new guidance remains a legislative rule because it relaxes the 0.2 gram NOx standard and establishes a new SCR-specific emissions standard.
EPA has until March 11 to respond to Navistar’s claims. Final briefs in the case are due April 9. While continuing to pursue its litigation against EPA over the February and December 2009 guidance, Navistar also is suing the agency over its November 2009 approval of scheduled maintenance intervals for SCR technology.
* ACT Research Co. is forecasting the truck transportation sector will strengthen in the second half of 2010, leading to stronger demand for commercial vehicles late this year and in 2011. The research firm also expects Class 8 vehicle production to rise 18 percent year-over-year in the first half of this year, largely due to stronger orders late in 2009 in advance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions mandate and poor production rates last year.
* John Ruan, founder of Des Moines, Iowa-based Ruan Transportation Management Systems, died last month at 96. Ruan, who founded his company in 1932 with one truck, also established a foundation that sponsors the World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals for improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
* IdleAire has ceased operations. The company had operated 131 locations in 34 states, providing filtered heating and air conditioning, electrical outlets and a range of communications and entertainment options at truckstops.
* A study commissioned by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners projected that the nation’s reliance on foreign energy would grow by 19 percent over the next 20 years due to restrictive policies on exploration of domestic oil and gas resources.
* U.S. Department of Transportation last month awarded $1.5 billion in grants to 51 road, bridge, rail, port, transit and intermodal projects across the country. The projects – chosen from among 1,400 applications – were selected based on several criteria, including contribution to the nation’s economic competitiveness, improvements to the safety and the condition of the existing transportation system, increased quality of life and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
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