9 February 1998

An estimated 10,000 diesel-powered trucks and school buses owned by municipal, county and state governments and public sector agencies in New Jersey will be retrofitted with catalytic converters to clean their exhausts and take 530 tons of pollutants out of the state's air annually, Governor Christie Whitman announced today.

The statewide diesel truck and school bus retrofit program, the first of its kind in the nation, is a voluntary effort which New Jersey developed and proposed to the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Highway Administration, Whitman noted.

The governor announced the program as the state began soliciting bids for vendors immediately following final approval from the EPA and FHWA. Installation of the catalytic converters is expected to begin in the second half of 1998.

"This is an issue of tailpipe equity," Whitman said. "We must ensure that every tailpipe, be it car, bus or truck, emits the smallest amount of pollution possible into our state's air. We must all be participants in the effort to clean our air.

"New Jersey is not under any obligation to do this program," the governor stressed. "There is no mandate. We created the program and we have set the bar high. More stringent emissions tests are on the way for New Jersey's automobile owners and it is only proper for government to be a willing partner and participant in the effort to clean the air."

All diesel-powered trucks owned by governmental and public sector agencies weighing more than 18,000 pounds and built prior to 1994 will be eligible to participate in the retrofit program. Diesel-powered buses owned by school districts also are eligible. The devices will be provided and installed free-of-charge.

Assuming full participation, 400 tons of volatile organic compounds and 130 tons of particulates will not be emitted into the atmosphere each year. Only emissions control technologies already certified by the EPA for urban bus use are eligible for use in the truck program.

"I urge all public sector agencies with diesel trucks and school districts to participate," Whitman said.

New Jersey will receive a 50% volatile organic compounds reduction credit and a 20% particulate matter reduction credit for each truck retrofitted, under an agreement with the EPA. The program is being funded through an $18 million grant from the FHWA.

New Jersey has several efforts underway in an overall, comprehensive program to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality in the Garden State.

Truck emissions are currently being checked under a random roadside inspection program involving private sector vehicles. Beginning in April, trucks which fail to meet emissions standards will be subject to fines. Truck diesel emissions test centers are presently being licensed by the state to perform annual exhaust tests on all trucks based in New Jersey and also for the retesting of trucks which fail the roadside inspections. The test centers will issue stickers upon passage of the emissions test. The annual truck emissions test program will begin in July.

A pilot program for the enhanced auto emissions test began last November at two Division of Motor Vehicles inspection lanes and is continuing.

Contact: Jeff Lamm, (609) 292-5203

Source: NJDOT