California EPA standards would restrict use of diesel engines

California EPA standards would restrict use of diesel engines

The California Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) proposing an emission standard of 1.5-gram ultra-low oxide of nitrogen (NOx) would force all new on-highway and nonroad engines to alternative fuels by 1999, testified Jed Mandel, counsel to the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), based in Chicago, Illinois, during a public hearing held in California last July.

Mandel said the FIP proposal is “not practical or possible” for heavy-duty on-highway and nonroad engines because alternative fuel engines are not available in the broad range of horsepower, ratings, and configurations needed to meet the thousands of vehicle and equipment applications in use in California. He pointed out that engines using diesel fuel, which would not meet the proposed 1.5 gram ultra-low oxide of nitrogen standard of the FIP, have demonstrated efficiency, durability, and reliability across a wide spectrum of products and uses.

Noting that California`s standards for truck and bus engineers already are the most stringent in the world, Mandel questioned the accuracy of the data on which the EPA based the proposed regulatory plan, which, Mandel said, “substantially exaggerates future growth and usage of vehicles and equipment, thereby exaggerating the amount of reductions that must be obtained from such sources.”

In addition, the EMA maintains that the EPA has failed to adequately demonstrate that its objective can be achieved within the time frame it specifies and has not assessed the costs and impact a conversion from diesel to alternative fuels would have on industry, users, consumers, and the economy. The EMA has provided the EPA with practical, cost-effective alternatives to the proposed FIP. The EMA is asking the EPA to consider a phase-in of the lower-emitting technology, focusing first on centrally fueled fleets and out-of-state trucks.

Among the concerns voiced by EMA manufacturers are the following:

The 1.5-gram NOx standard means no more diesel-powered trucks and buses will be sold in California after 1998, when natural gas likely would be the fuel used.

Vehicles powered by natural gas could cost twice as much and would have a 30- to 50-percent fuel economy penalty when compared with diesel-powered vehicles.

Matching the power of the diesel engine with similar-sized natural gas-fueled engines would not be possible in many applications…and, where it is possible, could require changes in engine design as well as rematching of the drive train.

At press time, it was not known whether emergency apparatus would be exempt from the proposed FIP requirements.

The EMA membership is comprised of 32 worldwide manufacturers of internal combustion engines for uses other than passenger cars and aircraft.

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