Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hog Wild

Community Drives Additional Controls for Heavy Duty Vehicles

No one likes dirty air. Its exposure knows no boundary. In California, the venerable Air Resources Board (CARB) has used study after study linking diesel particulate matter exposure to negative health impacts to justify strict in-use rules. Other states have opted into new engine standards that are identical to California, but outside of two port complexes, California remains the lone island for in use diesel regulations.
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma (SeaTac) have truck standards that are slated to go into effect at the end of 2017. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are also looking at an imminent truck implementation standard for the end of 2016. However, it has been reported that their implementation date was delayed by one year after numerous trucking firms voiced concern over their ability to meet the standards.
The NY/NJ and the SeaTac standards are identical to the CARB standards that have been in effect for California ports and intermodal railyards since 2014. Currently, the NY/NJ plan calls for trucks to meet 2007 model year engine standards as of January 1, 2017.
Although this date has not changed in their paperwork, there is currently discussion of different relief options which may in fact include a delay.

One popular mechanism to assist in truck turnover are grants or other incentives. While California is the granddaddy for all grant programs related to heavy duty trucks, some other states as well as the federal government offer truck replacement or retrofit grants to end users.
Both SETAC and NY/NJ offer truck replacement grants, as do the Ports of Virginia, Baltimore, Delaware and a handful of others. While most programs are specific to ports, other state programs seek municipal replacements or focus on natural gas engines. Diesel to diesel replacement options are out there but are limited. Really, only California and Texas have offered sizable grant amounts for diesel to diesel replacement.
For better or worse, most grant programs are starting a shift towards alternative fuel or hybrid platforms. Which may be a prelude to future mandates for non-diesel platforms in California and beyond. Of course, only California really has the regulatory muscle to force turnover of entire industries under clean air act mandates from the Federal government.
Nonetheless, other parts of the country haven’t quite jumped on the truck turnover-wagon just yet. The closest came when Oregon legislature considered giving their EPA authority to pass CARB like standards. But, due to its controversial nature and lack of support, the issue has so far been shelved for future discussion.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be looking at a lower ambient Ozone standard that will be implemented over the next few years once the lawsuits settle down. Its existence, which in and of itself may still not be enough to force states to look at the heavy duty trucking industry, will still need to be addressed by several states, with or without looking to truck turnover rules.
Nevertheless, states and municipalities may have other tools at their disposal to deal with emissions from heavy duty truck operation. If a constituency raises concerns over excess emissions from facilities near their homes or schools, it is just a matter of time before someone reacts.  
In Louisville, Kentucky, a Hog processing plant found itself on the receiving end of some zoning standards that required installation of CARB compliant engines on refrigerated trailers. A neighborhood association convinced a local zoning body to impose refer engine standards after the local APCD failed to act. The Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment, with consent of the property owner, imposed the requirement with air district approval. Only new engines will be allowed to operate on the property.
This may be a harbinger for CARB like rules, even stricter than existing regulations for specific facilities across the country. Well, maybe not everywhere. But, it may encourage local groups to push harder on local elected officials to change zoning laws if a facility is an emissions nuisance. In the case of the hog plant, the facility manager agreed in order to maintain their good neighbor policy, but other facility operators may not be so willing to bend. Of course time will tell.
Stay Tuned!

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