31 July 2007

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted a regulation aimed at reducing diesel emissions from the state’s in-use off-road diesel engines. The rule will affect an estimated 180,000 off-road vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support and other industries.

The regulation will reduce emissions by a combination of measures, including installation of diesel particulate filters and encouraging the replacement of older, dirtier engines with newer emission controlled models. By 2020, diesel PM emissions will be reduced by 74% and NOx by 32%, compared to what emissions would be without the regulation.

The requirements and deadlines vary depending on fleet size. For small fleets, which include small businesses or municipalities with a combined horsepower of 2500 or less, implementation does not begin until 2015. Medium fleets, with 2501 to 5000 hp, have until 2013, while large fleets, with over 5000 hp, must begin complying in 2010. Affected vehicles include bulldozers, loaders, backhoes and forklifts, as well as many other self-propelled off-road diesel vehicles.

The new rule also includes a provision allowing non-attainment areas for particulate matter to opt in to stricter regional requirements if incentive funds are made available. The air districts that could take advantage of this provision are the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Depending on the amount of incentive money made available, these provisions could as much as a double the NOx emissions benefits in these districts.

According to ARB estimates, the regulation will cost industry up to $3.5 billion over its lifetime. The ARB believes the rule will prevent 4,000 premature deaths statewide and avoid $18 - $26 billion in premature death and health costs.

Diesel particulate matter was identified as a toxic air contaminant in California in 1998. The off-road rule is a part of the state’s Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, which was established in 2000. Next year, similar requirements are to be developed for highway trucks.

Source: California ARB