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SCAQMD approves natural gas public fleet rules

17 June 2000

In its Friday meeting, the Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), a Southern California air quality agency covering Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, adopted new public fleet rules, which require that all new vehicles purchased or leased by public fleets be powered by natural gas, methanol, electricity or fuel cells. The new regulations (SCAQMD Rule 1192 and 1193) apply to urban transit bus and refuse collection truck fleets operating 15 or more vehicles. Exempted from the new requirements are school buses, vehicles used for non-public transportation, and motor coaches that travel out of the district.

In addition, the Board adopted Rule 1191, applicable to public fleets of light- and medium-duty vehicles, which requires that all newly purchased passenger cars are certified to the California LEV or cleaner emission standards.

The rules become effective upon adoption for transit bus operators with 100 or more vehicles and on 1 July 2001 for most other fleet operators.

Diesel engines, including “clean-diesel” technologies equipped with diesel particulate filters and hybrid diesel electric vehicles, even though their emissions may be cleaner than those from natural gas fueled engines, are not allowed under the regulations. The SCAQMD rule is probably the only engine emission law in the US that regulates specific technologies, as opposed to setting emission limits for particular pollutants, that have to be met by engine and vehicle manufacturers using any technology which is efficient, cost-effective, and accepted in the marketplace.

The SCAQMD rules have been opposed by engine manufacturers, who, while voicing their acceptance for tougher emission standards, demand a level playing field for all engine technologies and call for adding clean diesel to the list of allowable fuels.

In addition, the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) said that the SCAQMD ruling extends beyond the scope of the District's authority, as established by the federal Clean Air Act. The EMA said that “federal safeguards were established to prevent every air district from developing unique vehicle requirements that would lead to a 'patchwork quilt' of different rules and limitations across the state.”

SCAQMD Fleet Rule page