New EPA Emission Proposal Seen Having Little Impact on Trucking

Jefferson County, Ala., home to Birmingham, is one of the areas the EPA projects will fail to meet the proposed standards.

By Oliver B. Patton, Washington Editor

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new standard for fine particle pollution is not likely to have much impact on highway trucking, although it could lead to retrofit requirements and anti-idling regulations in a few places.

The EPA proposal would require states to reduce their fine-particle count from 15 to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020.

EPA, which was responding to a court order to issue the proposal, said that these microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and have been linked to numerous health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and bronchitis.

Glenn Kedzie, a vice president at American Trucking Associations, said he thinks the impact on trucking will be minimal.

EPA projects that just a half-dozen counties in the U.S. would fall short of the standard in 2020, Kedzie said. On the list: Riverside and San Bernandino, Calif.; Santa Cruz, Ariz.; Wayne County, Mich.; Jefferson County, Ala.; and Lincoln County, Mont.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, agreed.

“It’s speculative at this point to think that new standards would have an immediate effect on the industry,” he said.

Retrofits and idling restrictions would certainly be a way to bring older diesels into compliance, but regulators have other options because diesel emissions are a relatively small part of the particulate matter problem, he said.

“You have to look at this from a national perspective. All sources of diesel emission, locomotive, marine and on- and off-road, add up to less than 6% of pm emissions,” he said.

It is likely that the majority of the on-road diesel fleet will be compliant with EPA’s 2007 emission standards by 2020, Schaeffer said. These trucks would meet the 2020 particulate matter standard.

The story might be different for off-road diesels, Schaeffer said. That equipment tends to be in service longer and may not turn over as quickly as highway equipment.

EPA has not made any official statement about whether or not states could mandate diesel retrofits, he said. Certainly California’s retrofit program could be seen as a precedent for other states, but Schaeffer thinks legal decisions will have to be made before it’s clear what the policy will be.

The diesel engine manufacturers that Schaeffer’s group represents say the work they have done over the past decade puts the industry ahead of the curve should the EPA proposal go into effect.

“For the last decade, diesel technology has undergone a fundamental transformation to near zero emissions, based on ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, advanced clean-burning engines and new emissions control technology,” he said.

EPA said it is taking comments on the proposal for two months, and will publish final standards by December 14.

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2/7/2012 – Senate to Vote on Highway Funding Proposal
Today the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on revenue provisions to supplement the Highway Trust Fund and pay for the Senate’s proposed highway bill.

Passage of the measure will put in place a key provision for the Senate’s plan to reauthorize the federal highway program with a $109 billion, two-year bill. The House, meanwhile, is working on a $260 billion, five-year bill. …
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2/6/2012 – House Highway Bill Clears Committee on Party-Line Vote
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee did its job last week, reporting out a bill that would reauthorize the federal transportation program for five years at current funding levels. It was a squeaker, though, and the outlook for Congress finishing the job before the current program expires on March 31 is not rosy….
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2/3/2012 – House Panel Kills Truck Weight Increase

An increase in federal truck size and weight limits did not survive a House committee vote yesterday. Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 33 to 22
to study the increased limit, rather than actually increasing it….
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2/2/2012 – House Highway Bill Challenges Hours of Service Restart Provision
In the House highway bill unveiled yesterday, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., finally revealed what he meant when he said he will challenge the new hours of service rule. The bill could force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rewrite the 34-hour restart provision of the rule, which limits the restart to once a week with two sleep periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m….
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2/1/2012 – House Highway Bill Would Allow Heavier Trucks

The House of Representatives yesterday unveiled its version of a new highway program that would spend $260 billion over five years. The bill trims the Department of Transportation by consolidating or eliminating programs, gives states a greater say in how they spend federal money and speeds up the project approval process….
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1/31/2012 – EPA Sets Penalties for Emissions Non-Compliance
Navistar Inc. may have to pay penalties of up to $1,900 per engine if it cannot meet heavy diesel emission standards, according to a new Environmental Protection Agency rule….
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1/30/2012 – BTS Releases Interactive State Transportation Facts and Figures
The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics released State Transportation Facts and Figures, an interactive web transportation mapping application that allows customers to find and download state-by-state transportation data, comparisons and rankings….
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1/30/2012 – Hours of Service: Did FMCSA Find a Sweet Spot?
Almost no one is happy about the new hours of service rule. Maybe that means the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made the moves that will lead to stability, at long last.

Or maybe not….
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1/26/2012 – Carriers Responding to New Health Care Costs
More than 80% of carriers report that recent health care changes will adversely affect them, according to the recent fourth quarter national Business Expectations Survey by Transport Capital Partners….
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1/26/2012 – FMCSA Clarifies Push-to-Talk Guidance
FMCSA released updated FAQs on its new handheld mobile telephone ban to clarify that the use of the push-to-talk function on mobile phones is permitted, under certain limited conditions….
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1/26/2012 – House Readies Highway Bill
House Republicans will introduce a highway bill next week, said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mica’s announcement followed President Obama’s call in his State of the Union address for funding the highway program with money not spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….
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1/23/2012 – Judge Rejects Navistar Bid for SCR Engine Recall

A federal judge rejected Navistar’s bid to have the Environmental Protection Agency recall 2010 engines that use selective catalytic reduction to meet emission standards.

The judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said Navistar’s arguments for the recall are not persuasive and dismissed the case….
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1/19/2012 – Measure Would Allow Truckers to Go 75 mph in Idaho
A senator in northern Idaho wants to allow truckers to drive 75 mph in the state. The current speed limit for semis in Idaho is 65 mph while cars are allowed to drive 75 mph….
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1/19/2012 – Booz Allen: America Needs to ‘Reimagine’ Infrastructure
As the nation prepares for Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm, outlined items it says should be included in any discussion about the country’s aging infrastructure….
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1/19/2012 – Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal
President Obama announced that his administration is rejecting the controversial proposal for the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, which would have transported 700,000 barrels of oil daily from Canada, Montana and the Dakotas to U.S. refineries in Houston….
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1/18/2012 – ATRI Updates Online Idling Regulations Compendium
The American Transportation Research Institute has updated the list of idling regulations, both state and local, on its website, atri-online.org….
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1/18/2012 – CSA BASIC Fact Sheets Available on the Web
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability(CSA) program released a new Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) fact sheet series on its website….
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1/16/2012 – Minnesota Governor Addresses Infrastructure Problems With New Task Force
The day after announcing a $775 million jobs plan for Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton announced plans to establish the Commissioner’s Transportation Finance Advisory Group, a task force that will be responsible for recommending new ways to finance a better state infrastructure….
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1/16/2012 – NC Opens More Roads to Doubles
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will now allow the operation of double-trailer combinations on several freeway routes in the eastern part of the state plus the Triangle area….
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1/12/2012 – TRALA-Supported Virginia Legislation Addresses Motor Vehicle Rental Tax
Delegate James Massie (R-Henrico) has introduced Virginia legislation, sponsored by the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, that would limit the types of revenue taxed under the commonwealth’s 10% motor vehicle rental tax….
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1/11/2012 – New Jersey Assemblyman Alex DeCroce dies at 75
New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Alex DeCroce, 75, died suddenly late Monday night at the Statehouse, just after the 214th Legislature held its final voting session….
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1/9/2012 – FMCSA Reminds Carriers to Update VMT, Power Unit Data
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is reminding commercial motor carriers they they need to update their Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and Power Unit (PU) data on their Motor Carrier Registration form, known as the MCS-150….
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1/6/2012 – NY Crossover Mirror Law Effective Friday, Jan. 13
A New York law requiring trucks to have crossover mirrors will go into effect next Friday, Jan. 13….
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1/6/2012 – In State of the State, Cuomo Reveals Plans to Better NY Roads and Bridges
In Gov. Cuomo’s state of the state address yesterday, he introduced a plan for the New York Works Fund and Task Force, an entity that would make all the funding decisions for roads, bridges, parks, flood control and municipal water systems….
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1/3/2012 – Former FMCSA Supervisor Jailed for Accepting Bribes
A DOT official in New York State was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to felony bribe-taking….
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1/3/2012 – Cell Phone Restrictions Now in Effect
Interstate truck and bus drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving as of today, Jan. 3, under a final rule posted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration….
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12/29/2011 – Poll Finds Tolls More Popular Than Higher Fuel Taxes
In a Reason-Rupe poll of 1,200 adults, 58% of respondents said they would rather pay tolls if and when they use a particular lane or highway, rather than paying higher fuel taxes….
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12/28/2011 – Motorcoach Drivers May be Next to Get New HOS Rules
First, airline pilots were handed a new set of HOS rules. Then trucking got new marching orders from FMCSA. Bus drivers may be next. FMCSA has published a public listening session notice for motorcoach HOS….
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12/28/2011 – New HOS Rule Will Cause Delays for Manufacturers and Cost the Economy
National Association of Manufacturers has come out against trucking’s new hours-of-service rule, saying the rule will have a negative impact on manufacturers’ supply chains, distribution operations and productivity….
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12/27/2011 – California Reminds Truck Owners of Jan. 1 Clean Air Deadline
The California Air Resources Board is reminding owners of heavier diesel trucks and buses that new emission reducing regulations go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, and many businesses may need to report compliance online….
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12/23/2011 – New Hours Rule Likely Headed Back to Court
There’s a good chance the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new hours of service rule is going back to court.

Just hours after the new rule was released, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety indicated that it may resume its challenge of the 11-hour limit on driving….
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