New EPA rules will decrease pollution from heavy-duty vehicles by 90%

Manufacturers of new heavy-duty motor vehicles and engines, and new diesel light-duty motor vehicles in the United States, will have to produce diesel truck and bus engines which emit 40% less air pollution from 2004.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final rule for the first phase of its two-part strategy to significantly reduce harmful diesel emissions from new heavy-duty trucks and buses. The second phase of the programme, which the EPA expects to issue by the end of this year, will require cleaner diesel fuels by 2007, reducing air pollution from trucks and buses by a further 90%.

“Today, we are completing the first phase of a strategy that will result in cleaner-running truck and bus engines,” said Robert Perciasepe, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. “The second phase of the strategy will be announced later this year and will include cleaner diesel fuel and even cleaner engines. By ensuring cleaner trucks and buses, the Clinton-Gore Administration is taking another major step to provide significantly cleaner, healthier air for all Americans.”

According to the EPA, by the end of both phases, heavy-duty trucks and buses will be almost as clean as alternatively fuelled vehicles such as compressed natural gas vehicles. The requirements in this week’s action will result in lower NOx and hydrocarbon emissions, as well as secondary particulate matter formed when emissions of NOx react with ammonia in the atmosphere to produce ammonium nitrate particulates.

The EPA predicts a reduction in oxides of nitrogen emissions of over one million tonnes per year by 2010, when all states will have had to demonstrate compliance with air quality standards. The programme will also reduce other pollutants from heavy duty vehicles, such as volatile organic compounds.

The environmental benefits of the programme, says the EPA, would come at an average projected long-term cost increase of under $400 per vehicle for heavy-duty diesel engines, and under $300 per vehicle for heavy-duty gasoline vehicles and engines.

Motor vehicles generate about 30% of all US emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, says the EPA.

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