Diesel enginemakers fret; EPA firm
EPA told Land Line Magazine July 24 the October 1, 2002 deadline will not be changed. An agency spokeswoman said, however, the schedule and amount of penalties Caterpillar Inc. must pay has not yet been determined.

by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Back in April, OOIDA President Jim Johnston asked the EPA to delay its Oct. 1, 2002, deadline for emissions from new diesel truck engines. Johnston wanted greater certainty that proven engine designs will in fact be available. In a June 20 response to OOIDA, EPA said it would stick to the October date called for in 1998 consent decrees with several engine manufacturers.

On July 11, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman met with 33 congressional legislators who requested a year delay of the standard. After the meeting, an EPA spokeswoman reaffirmed the agency’s view to Land Line: “EPA continues to believe the consent decree should be implemented as scheduled.”

It should be noted, however, that political pressure is mounting to delay the regulations. Various lawsuits and petitions by associations and by diesel enginemakers could work in favor of a delay.

Specifically, the consent decrees noted that between 1988 and 1998, the largest truck engine manufacturers sold an estimated 1.3 million engines that violated emission limits applicable for those years. To remedy the situation, the manufacturers agreed to an October 2002 emission standard deadline, which otherwise would have been 2004.

EPA wrote to OOIDA: “The manufacturers were notified as early as June 2001, by EPA and the Department of Justice that the October 2002 compliance date would not be deferred. Further, in March 2002, EPA notified the companies that, based on the technical information it had received, the companies’ emission control strategies for October 2002 engines did not appear to present a problem for certification of the engines. As noted, the consent decree is a binding legal order that can only be modified by the court.” 

EPA also said it has not made final decisions about the amount of non-conformance penalties (NCPs) companies must pay if they don’t meet the 2002 deadline. EPA said most enginemakers intend to comply with the October 2002 date. Johnston was concerned about the impact of NCPs on engine cost. So at this stage, it appears EPA’s October deadline stands, unless a court says otherwise.

In June, the American Trucking Associations and 345 motor carriers also asked the EPA and the White House to delay the emission regulations because they said the new engines are untested, unproven and pose a threat to the industry’s ability to continue to move freight. 

Meanwhile, the enginemakers appear to be staking out their competitive territory. Caterpillar submitted its October 2002 engine line for EPA certification in June. The engine was described as a “building block” model based on Cat’s Advanced Combustion Emission Reduction Technology (ACERT). In fact, the engine submitted for EPA certification is Caterpillar’s “bridge engine,” which is composed of ACERT building blocks including a flexible fuel and air system, CAT electronics and a catalytic converter.

The company said its full line of ACERT engines will come out in October 2003. The engines will be based on improvements made to each of the building blocks, a company spokesman said, adding that the engines “will be competitively priced” with the final cost to be determined by the OEM.

And in a recent development, Caterpillar reportedly sued Cummins challenging EPA’s certification of Cummins’ ISX engine, claiming Cummins’ engines rely on devices that bypass emissions-reduction technology. Caterpillar claims Cummins’ technology is a “defeat device” like those that prompted the EPA to sue the enginemakers in the first place.

And International sued Caterpillar Inc., accusing the company of breaking a contract limiting the price increase of new engines that will meet the October 2002 emission standards.