| July 01, 2009

Engine makers challenge Navistar on SCR

Most suppliers of heavy-duty diesel engines that will rely on selective catalytic reduction in 2010 are opposing Navistar’s legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s certification requirements for SCR.

On June 1, Cummins, Daimler Trucks North America, Detroit Diesel, Mack Trucks and Volvo Group North America filed documents with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit opposing Navistar’s position.

Navistar on March 31 filed its challenge in a federal appeals court to EPA’s Feb. 18 certification requirements for heavy-duty engines using SCR. On May 4, the truck maker submitted a statement of issues to the D.C. Circuit raising the question of whether EPA can adopt the 2009 SCR guidance without a rulemaking proceeding.

Navistar noted that EPA’s 2001 rule established a 0.2-gram nitrogen oxides standard for all 2010 model trucks; it also found SCR not to be a feasible technology to meet the standard. Navistar charges that the 2009 SCR guidance relaxes the 0.2 gram standard and approves a technology that EPA in 2001 concluded would not allow the standard to be met on a fleetwide basis.

The Feb. 18 document provides guidance to manufacturers on various issues surrounding SCR, including several related to the required diesel exhaust fluid. Navistar’s challenge appears to rest on the notion that EPA is allowing SCR-equipped trucks to be operated for a number of miles or hours – albeit at significantly reduced torque – without DEF, with poor-quality DEF or with a partially inoperable SCR system.

“There is absolutely no benefit to society, customers or the environment in the approach Navistar has deliberately chosen to confuse this very important issue,” says Volvo spokesman Jim McNamara.
- Jill Dunn and Avery Vise

Highway funding almost depleted

Money for current highway construction will run out in August unless Congress approves up to $7 billion more, according to the Obama administration.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said June 2 the administration has told senators the Federal Highway Trust Fund will need an estimated $5 billion to $7 billion to maintain existing construction projects.

The administration said another $8 billion to $10 billion will be needed for the year ending Sept. 30, 2010.

Reduced driving since 2007 has cut federal gas tax revenue, which is the primary source of highway fund money. Some members of Congress have proposed increasing the federal gas tax, which has been at 18.4 cents a gallon since the 1990s.

Trust fund money is separate from the $48 billion in transportation projects included in the economic stimulus program.

Last year, Congress approved an emergency transfer of $8 billion in general treasury money to make up a projected shortfall in the fund – the first time in the program’s history that had happened.

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