CARB attacks emissions on 2 fronts

CARB attacks emissions on 2 fronts

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) gave a year-end green light to two separate efforts to reduce diesel engine exhaust pollution as well as greenhouse gases [GHGs].

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) gave a year-end green light to two separate efforts to reduce diesel engine exhaust pollution as well as greenhouse gases [GHGs]. In an effort to control and ultimately reduce emissions that “harm human health” and “contribute to global warming,” CARB said it was setting new standards for diesel emissions and creating a “cap-and-trade” program.

On the diesel emission front, CARB passed amendments to previous diesel engine emissions control measures. The amendments will mandate particulate matter [PM] reductions from current levels by an additional 50% by 2014 and 70% by 2020.

The new amendments, however, exempt about 150,000 lighter diesel-powered trucks from diesel particulate filters [DPF] rules while delaying initial compliance date for the retrofitting of heavier trucks – allowing them to operate another eight years before being required to use a truck that meets 2010 emissions standards.

Yet CARB also expanded its diesel rules to require all school buses greater than 14,000 lbs. GVWR to be retrofitted with DPFs by 2014 to comply with the more aggressive emissions standards. If no DPF retrofit is available, the buses have until 2018 to be replaced by vehicles with a 2010 model year engine or emissions equivalent, the agency said.

All commercial trucks serving ports, however – including Class 7 models – must have DPFs installed by 2014, according to the new amendments, with the scope of the regulations expanded to include trucks operating outside port or rail yard properties to prevent non-compliant trucks from receiving cargo from clean trucks in those areas, CARB said.

On the GHG front, CARB endorsed new “cap-and-trade” regulations designed to set a statewide limit on the emissions from sources responsible for 80% of California’s GHGs, while establishing what the agency dubs a “price signal” needed to drive long-term investment in cleaner fuels and more efficient use of energy, said Mary Nichols, the agency’s chairman.

“This program is the capstone of our climate policy, and will accelerate California’s progress toward a clean energy economy,” she added. “It rewards efficiency and provides companies with the greatest flexibility to find innovative solutions that drive green jobs, clean our environment, increase our energy security and ensure that California stands ready to compete in the booming global market for clean and renewable energy.”

CARB’s “cap-and-trade” program – crafted over the last two years – will cover 360 businesses representing 600 facilities and is divided into two broad phases: an initial phase beginning in 2012 that will include all major industrial sources along with utilities; and, a second phase that starts in 2015 and brings in distributors of transportation fuels, natural gas and other fuels.

The agency stressed that companies are not given a specific limit on their GHG emissions under its “cap-and-trade” program but rather must supply a sufficient number of allowances – each covering the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide or CO2 – to cover their annual emissions.

Each year, the total number of allowances issued in the state drops, requiring companies to find the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to reducing their emissions. By the end of the program in 2020 there will be a 15% reduction in GHG emissions compared to today, reaching the same level of emissions as the state experienced in 1990.

Additionally, the program is designed so that California may link up with programs in other states or provinces within the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), including New Mexico, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Efforts are also underway to link the WCI with other regional climate programs, such as the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which covers the power generation emissions of 10 states in the northeastern U.S., CARB said.

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