Emissions Hopes and Fears

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

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Truth prevails. At least that's the hope of sensible people. Recent developments in California have raised hopes that CARB may begin looking realistically at the draconian measures it has forced upon equipment owners in its efforts to restrict diesel emissions.

As executive editor Larry Stewart reported in our Big Iron blog last month, a PhD scandal and an AGC study of projected emissions have put CARB in the spotlight and on the spot. Although the board rejected a call to repeal the state's Truck and Bus rule on Dec. 11, there is a sense that CARB finally understands the economic ramifications of its actions.

But as managers relax on California, they need to keep a keen eye on Washington.

The U.S. EPA has used nonattainment areas to enforce clean air regulations, and there it looks like more will be added this spring. If so, more counties will be deemed "unclean" and the door will be opened for stricter emissions controls on equipment operating within them.

We have been hearing rumblings about this, but it wasn't until an event in Cincinnati that we saw the proposed map. The event, presented by AEMP in cooperation with Construction Equipment, featured a presentation by Joe Mastanduno of John Deere, who said the proposed changes will take effect in April.

The means by which the EPA is expanding the list on nonattainment counties, however, warrants explanation. Obviously, the easiest way is to lower the allowed emissions limits, which EPA will do. But the agency is also considering tightening the time frames within which emissions can occur and making them site-specific. For example, a project may be limited to a certain level of emissions within its jobsite within 8 hours.

The message here is clear, and it's a message many equipment managers are still trying to avoid. Managing compliance has skyrocketed to the top or near the top of your to-do list. There's no better time than now — today — to start evaluating your fleet. Business is slow, there's time to start compiling data, and there's time to thoroughly develop a strategy and plan.

Do it before the regulators force you to do it...on their timetable.