Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Truck Rules All Around?
Tightening Ozone Standard May Squeeze On-Road Trucking Fleet in US

Lost within the debate over energy policy and climate change is the tightening ozone standard and how it may impact the on-road trucking fleet in many states across the county. The plan is under scrutiny from Congress, but not because it will impact truck fleets, but because refineries and power providers will more than likely face increased costs and possible layoffs.
A newly formed subcommittee called the Interior Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been tasked in part to keep a close eye on the Environmental Protection Agency. One thing they will be looking at besides keeping a watch on EPA management and the national park maintenance backlog will be the tightening Ozone standard.

This is not the first time at the dance for the lower ozone standard. The Bush Administration originally delayed initial implementation of the 70-65 ppb recommendations in 2008 when a 75 ppb standard was adopted. When Obama got into office, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said the standards weren’t legally defensible.   The EPA forged ahead on tightening the lower standard but was sidetracked in September 2011 when the plan was delayed right before the 2012 election.

So in 2013, environmental groups sued. In April 2014, the 9th circuit court said the standard must go forward and a final rule in must be in place by October, 2015.  California has the most to lose when it comes to the lowering standard because many of the regions across the state would be out of attainment. Being as such, the Golden State has until 2037 to meet the standard, while the rest of the county would have until 2025.
The debate on this issue will quite possibly be more political than regulatory.  The standard seems to be moving forward unless a legal challenge is sought from the opposing side. Congress may however be able to put pressure on states to look for other sources for reductions besides some of the more well-heeled refineries and power producers.

For the transportation industry, the Ozone standard may in fact prove to spur additional incentive opportunities for turnover to alternative fuel platforms it may also spur state governments to look at tightening in use turnover standards on heavy duty trucks. See “Diesel Starts with Die” CLICK HERE.
States including but not limited to, Arizona and New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware may need to take a serious look in how they are going to meet the standards.

This may include accelerated turnover of heavy duty trucks to help to meet the Ozone standard EPA is proposing. According to the EPA, older diesel engines and other mobile sources are significant contributors to NOx pollution. NOx is a pre cursor to Ozone, so in theory, reducing NOX emissions will also reduce Ozone.
Although Ozone can occur naturally it is difficult for sates to predict or even control natural phenomenon like thunder and lightning storms which can bring stratospheric ozone closer to Earth’s surface. They can however control through state regulation or legislation the configuration of in-use, heavy duty diesel engines that operate within state or local boundaries. If the problem is bad enough, states basically have the blessing of the federal government because of the Clean Air Act. This makes legal challenges difficult to say the least.  Typically the first step is requiring public agencies to adopt cleaner technology. Once that happens, private industry is next.

It is very possible that natural attrition of the truck fleet may not happen fast enough for states to meet the standard. And despite the latest federal engine standards, in-use emissions from the legacy fleet in these states will be in the crosshairs. This will mean state or possibly federal regulations depending on the ability of state regulators to tackle the problem. 2025 isn’t that far away.  Stay tuned!




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