Biden EPA proposes stricter emission limits for heavy trucks | lifestyles

By TOM KRISHER – AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) – The Biden administration is proposing tougher pollution regulations for new semi-trucks that would clean up smoking diesel engines and encourage new technology over the next two decades.

The proposal, released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency, would require industry to reduce smog- and soot-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90% per truck by 2031 compared to current standards. The emissions can cause respiratory problems in humans.

Though truck manufacturers are working on battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains, the EPA says the proposal is not a zero-emissions truck requirement. Rather, the agency says pollution reduction devices are under development that can keep diesel engines running and still clean the air.

The EPA is also drafting stricter limits on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. The current standards would be updated from 2027 and stricter new standards would start in 2030. The requirements were last updated in 2001, and the next big step will follow in 2024.

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The stricter new standards would not apply to new trucks, limiting the impact of the new regulations.

EPA officials say the new requirements correspond to an executive order from President Joe Biden to clean up transportation, which is the nation’s leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. Transport emits 29% of the gases and heavy trucks account for 23%. Biden is trying to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to combat the effects of climate change.

The new standards would bring wide-ranging improvements in air quality, particularly in areas already subject to heavy truck traffic, officials say.

“It is estimated that 72 million people live near trucking routes in America and are more likely to be people of color and lower income groups,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

The agency says it will offer several options to reduce pollution from heavy trucks and buses, and will consider public comments before developing final standards by the end of this year.

“The EPA has partnered with stakeholders and identified several options in the proposal addressing the robustness of the standards, the timeline for phase-out of the standards, options to encourage early adoption of clean technologies, and improvements to emissions guarantees,” the said agency in a statement.

The EPA would also tighten requirements for school buses, transit buses, commercial vans and short-haul tractors, areas where the transition to zero-emission vehicles is more advanced.

First versions of all-electric semis are now going on sale, and the industry is testing trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells that generate electricity.

The EPA says new greenhouse gas standards could help accelerate the transition to zero-emission trucks and buses weighing over 26,000 pounds.

Currently, battery electric trucks have a limited range and take a long time to charge the batteries. Refueling stations for hydrogen fuel cell trucks are few and pollution will be emitted when most hydrogen is now made from natural gas. However, researchers are working on so-called “green hydrogen”, which is produced using electricity from renewable sources such as wind or sun.

Pollution standards would require manufacturers to certify their trucks meet the stricter requirements or face penalties. The EPA also wants them to extend emissions control warranties to make them less expensive for truckers to purchase.

The new exhaust treatment systems would come with higher costs, as would the warranties, which would likely be passed on to truck and bus buyers. But the EPA says reduced pollution from the strictest option would save the country up to $250 billion from 2027 to 2045, mostly by preventing deaths and reducing healthcare costs.

The EPA said the stricter standards would prevent up to 2,100 premature deaths, reduce hospital and emergency room admissions by 6,700 and prevent 18,000 cases of childhood asthma.

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