kscarbel Posted September 29, 2013 Share Posted September 29, 2013 Forbes / September 27, 2013Truck operators in California are complaining that several new rules issued by the state’s Air Resources Board (CARB) are either too costly or impossible to comply with, given current engine and fuel technology.In at least one case, industry charges, a diesel soot filter mandated by CARB caused a major fire in Washington state, leading to the destruction of nearly 4,000 acres of forest and grassland.CARB is phasing in a requirement that all trucks manufactured between 2000 and 2004, with gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds, be fitted with diesel particulate filters (DPFs). The devices trap soot, ash and toxic metals, cutting down on noxious emissions. Vehicles that fail to comply with the rule will be banned from operating in California, with violators subject to fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 a day.Truckers claim that the filters don’t integrate well with older vehicle models. They have been known to shut down engines and result in increased equipment downtime, said Michael Shaw, spokesman for the California Trucking Association (CTA).The filters need to be periodically regenerated, or cleaned out. The 2011 fire in Washington was set off by sparks escaping from a CARB-approved filter that had gone into an uncontrolled regeneration cycle, Shaw said.CARB immediately had the suspect filter removed from the market. Erik White, chief of the agency’s Mobile Source Operations Division, said the particular model contained a metal substrate that can melt under high temperatures. Most diesel filters consist of heat-resistant ceramics.“We felt that the right course of action was to cease any future sales of that device,” said White. But CARB insists that all other filters on the market are safe, and essential to reducing diesel emissions from older trucks.In cases where a filter causes engine shutdown, the reason is nearly always the failure of truck operators to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance procedures, said White. “When we follow up, and they incorporate those changes into their practices, we don’t see repeat problems,” he said.Shaw said the filter retrofits “are not going to be a long-term viable option.” What CARB really wants is for truckers to scrap their older models and buy newer, cleaner-burning vehicles. In the meantime, operators are faced with a cost of $15,000 or more for each filter installed on an existing unit. Many older trucks aren’t worth more than that. CTA estimates industry’s total cost of compliance at $1 billion a year.The CARB rules come with several financing mechanisms to help truck owner-operators pay for the retrofits, including both outright grants and loan guarantees. Passage of state Proposition 1B in 2008 made available money for the purchase of cleaner trucks. Another measure earmarked $10 million in loan guarantees, and White said CARB is recommending that the state invest an additional $8 million to extend funding through the end of the year.“We will see an extension of the program,” said Shaw, “but more needs to be done.”The trucking industry is also upset over CARB’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, which mandates the increased use of low-carbon transportation fuels. Shaw said the standard “far exceeds the technological capability of engines we have in the fleet today. Currently, even the most modern engines cannot deal with more than a level of 20-percent biodiesel.” What’s more, he said, the use of biodiesel fuel at CARB-mandated levels would violate manufacturer warranties.CARB replied that it isn’t specifying which alternative fuels need to be used. And it refutes industry claims that there aren’t enough of them around to meet the LCFS. “These assertions tend to overlook the existence of low-carbon-intensity natural gas and electricity as fuel sources,” the agency said in a statement. In addition, CARB said, industry is dramatically under-estimating the amount of biodiesel that can be produced, while ignoring the growth of low-carbon sources such as corn oil and waste oil.“In short,” said CARB, “these negative predictions generally assume there will be no technological development and investment in alternative fuels, which is an assumption already being proved wrong.”Yet another source of friction between CARB and truckers is the agency’s mandate for the installation of trailer skirts, to cut down on aerodynamic drag. The plastic or metal panels are placed between the wheels of the tractor and trailer. In addition, the agency is requiring the adoption of low-rolling-resistance tires to reduce road friction.The problem, in industry’s view, lies in CARB’s assessment of the benefits of that equipment. Shaw claimed the agency is basing its calculations on trucks driving at 62.5 miles per hour — seven and a half miles faster than the legal speed limit — 80 percent of the time. In reality, he said, carriers travel at 55 MPH about 40 percent of the time.As a result, said Shaw, CARB’s estimate of $3 billion in efficiency benefits delivered by the trailer skirts and special tires is really a cost to industry of $4 billion.In a statement, CARB replied that it “knows of no study arriving at those conclusions.” It asserted that skirts cut fuel consumption by 5.9% to 7.4% at test speeds between 60 and 62 MPH. But that’s still over the 55 MPH speed limit enforced on many of the state’s highways.In any case, the agency is sticking by its rules. Last summer, it released a study which credited the agency’s air-quality programs, especially those covering diesel fuel and engines, for an annual reduction of up to 13 percent in California’s carbon dioxide emissions. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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