24 June 2009

The New York State Environmental Board approved regulations that require that all older heavy-duty diesel vehicles owned by New York State agencies and authorities and by contractors working on behalf of the state be retrofitted by December 31, 2010 to reduce PM emissions. The regulation is implementing the state Diesel Emission Reduction Act of 2006.

The regulations require that vehicles use the “Best Available Retrofit Technology”, defined as technology verified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or California Air Resources Board (ARB), applicable to the particular engine and application, that achieves reductions in PM emissions at the highest classification level. The retrofit requirements are applicable to heavy-duty vehicles with model year 2006 or earlier engines. ‘Heavy Duty Vehicles’ are defined as on-or off-road vehicles powered by a diesel engine and having a gross vehicle weight greater than 8,500 lbs (with some exceptions).

Retrofitting can reduce a heavy-duty diesel's PM emissions from 25% (diesel oxidation catalyst) to 85% (diesel particulate filter). The retrofits are estimated to cost from about $4,000 to $8,000 per vehicle. Some 30,000 state-owned vehicles are expected to be impacted.

New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and other groups are lobbying state legislation to set up a diesel retrofit fund similar to those in place in some other states including Texas, California, and New Jersey. A potential source of money for the fund is the federal Congestion and Mitigation of Air Quality (CMAQ) program. The state is also receiving $1.7 million in federal stimulus funds to help retrofit the regional transportation authority buses.

Because the state recognized that no retrofit technology exists for some vehicles, the regulations allow for owners of such vehicles to apply for a waiver from the requirements. The ability to retrofit an engine depends on a number of factors, including the engine age, engine technology and the duty cycle of the vehicle. The regulations also require the same vehicles to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Major state agencies directly impacted by the regulations include the Department of Transportation, Office of General Services, Thruway Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Capital District Transportation Authority, Niagara Frontier Regional Transportation Authority, Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, Central New York Regional Transportation Authority and DEC, as well as their contractors.

Source: NY DEC