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News Briefs | 03.13.17

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March 13, 2017

South Coast AQMD Amends Air Quality Management Plan to Increase Demand for Near-Zero-NOx Engines

During its March 3 board meeting, the South Coast AQMD governing board passed two amendments to the district’s Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) intended to increase demand for near-zero-NOx engines. Board member Sheila Kuehl suggested updating the SCAQMD’s fleet rules to include near-zero-NOx technology, and board member Dr. Clarke E. Parker suggested prioritizing the most cost-effective technologies to reach short-term air quality goals, calling out near-zero-NOx natural gas engines.

During the meeting, Parker said that diesel trucks emit 100 tons of NOx a day in the region, and that using near-zero-NOx engines will immediately reduce emissions by 98 tons a day—without requiring additional expenditures on technology development and research.

New EPA Leader Halts Request for Methane Data from Oil and Gas Producers

In one of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first actions, he halted an effort to gather data from oil and gas producers necessary to rein in methane leaks. An Information Request Order finalized by the Obama administration in November required more than 15,000 owners and operators of oil and gas production or processing facilities to submit information on their equipment and operations to the EPA. The order called the data collection “a critical step” to reducing methane emissions. Technology for controlling leaks is available, but the industry has resisted installing it.

TICO Unveils CNG Pilot Tractor

TICO Manufacturing unveiled a new terminal tractor prototype powered by an 8.8-liter CNG engine at the 2017 TMC (Technology and Maintenance Council) Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 27–March 2. The company stated that it is already testing the prototype in service, but it has not revealed a terminal location. Terminal tractors are widely used at distribution centers, rail terminals, and ports across North America, including in California. According to TICO, the prototype both lowers emissions and improves reliability compared with traditional models.

Auto Alliance Requests Rejection of the EPA’s Midterm Evaluation

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has requested that Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the EPA, withdraw the Final Determination on the Appropriateness of the Model Year 2022–2025 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards under the Midterm Evaluation (MTE). The EPA announced the MTE on Jan. 13 but didn’t publish it in the Federal Register before President Obama left office.

The MTE determines whether the standards for model years 2022–25 are still appropriate given the latest data, including developments in powertrain technology, vehicle electrification, lightweighting, vehicle safety impacts, penetration of fuel-efficient technologies in the marketplace, consumer acceptance of fuel-efficient technologies, and trends in fuel prices and vehicle fleets, among many factors.

The Jan. 13 MTE found that the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2022–25 “remain appropriate” at or below the costs estimated in 2012. According to the report, continuing the program will deliver significant benefits in terms of clean air and public health, as well as cost savings to consumers. The MTEs have been credited with driving innovation in alternative fuel technologies. Opponents of rejecting the MTE are concerned that withdrawing this Final Determination could stall ongoing alternative fuel development.



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