EMA president testifies at hearing on off-road diesel emissions proposal

While proposed off-road diesel emission requirements would provide huge air quality benefits, sufficient time must be allowed for manufacturers to develop the necessary technology, Jed Mandel, president of the Engine Manufacturers Association, said Tuesday at a public hearing on the proposal.

In a testimony at the Environmental Protection Agency hearing, Mandel stressed the commitment of the industry to emission reductions while expressing concern over the difficulties manufacturers will face.

The EPA proposal, announced in April, requires manufacturers of diesel-powered off-road equipment to install new emission controls between 2008 and 2014. The EPA’s goal is to raise emission standards for off-road equipment to the level of standards for on-road diesel engines. The proposal particularly targets the emission of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are produced by diesel engines and can cause serious health problems.

While engine manufacturers are currently working to meet recent EPA emissions standards for on-highway engines, Mandel said transferring that technology to off-road equipment will not be easy.

“Applying that technology to nonroad diesel engines will pose significant challenges and require enormous capital investment,” Mandel said. “Unlike on-highway engines, non-road engines are produced in a much wider power range and much lower volumes, serve in a wider range of specialized applications and must operate under harsh conditions.”

Another obstacle Mandel identified in his testimony is the restricted space for diesel engines in off-road equipment. Because engine space is limited, redesign could impose substantial costs on manufacturers.

According to EPA estimates, to add emission control systems to the engine of a 175-horsepower bulldozer and to redesign the bulldozer to fit the new engine, will cost an additional $2,600. In the long run, however, the new engines are expected to save owners more money because of reduced maintenance costs that are the result of using low-sulfur fuel. Mandel, however, is concerned the price increase will diminish the rate of turnover of older, less advanced engines.

In the past, emission reductions have been achieved through improved engine technology. Mandel said further reductions will require engine technologies as well as cleaner fuels and aftertreatment technologies.

“The key is to greatly reduce the sulfur content of non-road diesel fuel, which today has an average sulfur content ten times that of on-highway diesel fuel,” Mandel said. “We support EPA’s two-step plan to reduce sulfur content to near zero, which will reduce emissions from in-use equipment and enable the use of aftertreatment emission reduction technology in new equipment.”

To read the EPA’s diesel emission proposal and other related documents, visit www.epa.gov/nonroad. Additional public hearings on the proposal will be held in Chicago on June 12 and Los Angeles on June 17. A final rule will be published after hearings are complete and public comments are reviewed. You can e-mail your comment on the proposal to nrt4@epa.gov. Comments will be received until Aug. 20. A final rule is expected to be published in early fall.