A lawsuit filed July 5 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Navistar against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accuses the agency of having certified competitors’ exhaust emission systems without determining if those systems work as intended under certain real-world situations.
The suit states that SCR-equipped engines - used by Navistar’s competitors to meet EPA-2010 emissions standards—require frequent replenishment with an essential fluid [DEF a.k.a. urea] and … “Those fill-ups are both expensive and inconvenient for the customers of SCR engine makers.” The suit also contends that whenever the DEF tank is empty, emissions rise “3 to 40 times.”
The suit lists situations in which the tank is not filled with DEF – and thus taking the engine out of compliance while operating - as including forgetting or refusing to fill the tank, substituting water for DEF, or allowing the DEF to freeze.
The upshot, states Navistar in the suit, is that “... EPA unlawfully and preferentially helped (and intends to continue to help) SCR engine manufacturers by making it easier for them to compete with other emission control technologies by reducing or eliminating the need for drivers to refill with DEF, which in turn allows SCR engines to become heavy polluters above the lawful emission standards.”
In addition, the suit cites EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for failing to “exercise her non-discretionary duty under the Clean Air Act and applicable regulations to test heavy-duty, on-highway SCR diesel engines in the manner that reflects the way that EPA has authorized them to be driven on the road.”
Asked to comment on the suit and its merits, Navistar spokesman Steve Schrier told Fleet Owner the suit was filed because “We’re really just trying to seek a level playing field.”
Navistar settled a previous suit against the EPA in May 2010 over SCR. That suit, among other charges, claimed that EPA “has illegally accommodated the SCR Manufacturers outside of the public eye and allowed them to deploy an emissions control technology that can only be implemented with a de facto and illegal relaxation of the NOx emission standard.”
Navistar contended in its initial court motion that EPA’s SCR guidance should have been subject to an official rulemaking process and that a required ramp-down process to disable a truck in steps if it is run without the diesel emissions fluid (DEF) needed by SCR would allow those systems to exceed the 0.2 g NOx requirement for some period.
As part of the May 2010 settlement of that suit, EPA agreed to “hold a public workshop or hearing to address issues Navistar raised in its federal court appeal of EPA’s certification policies for SCR-equipped diesel powered trucks.”