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Navistar: EPA gave SCR "license to pollute"

June 11, 2009
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "has been diverted from its environmental mission and somehow talked into an environmentally hostile action," according to court papers filed by Navistar Inc.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "has been diverted from its environmental mission and somehow talked into an environmentally hostile action," according to court papers filed by Navistar Inc. In an issue that revolves around EPA's recently issued certification standards and "guidance" for diesel engines using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to meet 2010 emissions requirements, the latest legal salvo by the Illinois-based truck maker charges that those standards "turn back the clock on NOx reduction," and provide "permission for SCR to pollute for convenience."

Navistar originally challenged the EPA's SCR actions in late March, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review those actions, which it said violated federal rulemaking requirements and the Clean Air Act. Subsequently, Cummins Inc., Detroit Diesel Corp., Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA), Volvo Group North America Inc. and Mack Trucks Inc. as a group asked the court that they be allowed to participate in the case as amici curiae, or friends of the court. The group members, along with Paccar and its Peterbilt and Kenworth subsidiaries, have all committed to using SCR to meet the federal emissions requirement that NOx emissions from diesel engines be at or below 0.2 g/bhp-hr. beginning Jan. 1, 2010.

In response, Navistar has now opposed the amici curiae request in a motion filed on June 8. The strongly worded document includes charges that the SCR group had essentially written EPA's "illegal guidance" and that "the SCR Manufacturers support EPA's position because it is, literally, their position."

Read entire Navistar: EPA gave SCR "license to pollute" article ...

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "has been diverted from its environmental mission and somehow talked into an environmentally hostile action," according to court papers filed by Navistar Inc. In an issue that revolves around EPA's recently issued certification standards and "guidance" for diesel engines using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to meet 2010 emissions requirements, the latest legal salvo by the Illinois-based truck maker charges that those standards "turn back the clock on NOx reduction," and provide "permission for SCR to pollute for convenience."

Navistar originally challenged the EPA's SCR actions in late March, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review those actions, which it said violated federal rulemaking requirements and the Clean Air Act. Subsequently, Cummins Inc., Detroit Diesel Corp., Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA), Volvo Group North America Inc. and Mack Trucks Inc. as a group asked the court that they be allowed to participate in the case as amici curiae, or friends of the court. The group members, along with Paccar and its Peterbilt and Kenworth subsidiaries, have all committed to using SCR to meet the federal emissions requirement that NOx emissions from diesel engines be at or below 0.2 g/bhp-hr. beginning Jan. 1, 2010.

In response, Navistar has now opposed the amici curiae request in a motion filed on June 8. The strongly worded document includes charges that the SCR group had essentially written EPA's "illegal guidance" and that "the SCR Manufacturers support EPA's position because it is, literally, their position."

Navistar is the sole U.S. heavy-duty manufacturer to reject the SCR approach, and instead has committed to meeting the rule's standards using high levels of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation). The company will at least initially also rely on emissions credits it has earned with cleaner light-duty diesels produced over the last two years to certify engines at a 0.5 g/bhp.-hr NOx level.

The new motion also charges 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 has 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.

Calling the ramp-down requirement "licenses to pollute," the Navistar motion says "the continued infeasibility of SCR is the reason why the SCR Manufacturers and EPA never triggered the public hearings and/or afforded the due process mandated by Congress." Further, the court papers say "the SCR Manufacturers operating in secret inexplicably managed to convince EPA to allow the existing and future NOx inventory to be increased rather than decreased and thereby degrade air quality starting in 2010.

The Navistar filing also disputed the amici curiae argument that SCR technology represents significant development investment by the truck makers. "In reality, the SCR Manufacturers … are predominately foreign manufacturers who … were using SCR technology in foreign countries. .. the SCR Manufacturers convinced EPA to permit them to use SCR technology, not because it was cleaner but because it was cheaper for them to deploy, since they had already developed and used it elsewhere."

Citing its non-SCR approach to meeting the 2010 requirements, Navistar charged that "EPA has given no license to Navistar's engines to pollute for convenience or any other reason." By now allowing the use of SCR, which EPA had rejected in 2001, the new agency certification actions "seriously disadvantages law-abiding manufacturers like Navistar," the new motion contended.

In a written response to Navistar's latest motion, Volvo Trucks of North America (VTNA) said other engine manufacturers need to be admitted as friends of the court "to refute misinformation Navistar has presented."

Navistar's motion quoted the VTNA website's explanation of its SCR NOx technology as proof that "NOx air quality will degrade with EPA's permission for SCR to pollute for convenience."

That quote was a "desperate attempt to mislead the court by taking information … out of context to reach a wildly inaccurate and misguided conclusion," according to VTNA spokesperson James McNamara

"Navistar, of course, admits its technology is unable to reach the 0.2 g NOx limit," McNamara said. "There is absolutely no benefit to society, customers or the environment in the approach Navistar has deliberately chosen to confuse this very important issue."

The Court of Appeals has yet to respond to either the amici curiae request or Navistar's motion opposing that request, and no schedule has been released for hearings on the original petition.

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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