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ARB Adopts Landmark Off-Road Emissions Rules

The off-road sector that will be regulated (gold wedge) accounts for a large component of the state’s mobile source diesel emissions. Click to enlarge. Source: ARB

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted pioneering—and controversial—NOx and PM regulations aimed at reducing toxic and cancer-causing diesel emissions from the state’s estimated 180,000 off-road vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support and other industries.

The regulations were linked to the ARB upheaval earlier in July that resulted in the firing of the then-Chair, Dr. Robert Sawyer; the resignation of the executive director, Catherine Witherspoon; charges about the Schwarzenegger administration meddling in Board decisions; and ultimately, the appointing by Governor Schwarzenegger of Mary Nichols as the new ARB Chair. (Earlier post.)

This regulation will prevent thousands of premature deaths and reduce health care costs for those suffering from respiratory disease such as asthma. It is also the first of its kind in the nation, and, as has occurred with other California regulations, could serve as a model for other states to follow.

—Mary Nichols, ARB Chairman

Diesel particulate matter was identified as a toxic air contaminant in 1998. In 2000, the ARB established California’s Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce diesel emissions to 85% below 2000 levels by 2020. Other sources of diesel particulate matter such as transit buses, trash trucks, cargo-handling equipment and ship auxiliary engines have already been addressed through regulations, along with diesel fuel.

Because many diesel engines lack emission controls and can remain in use for 30 years or longer, they will remain a major contributor to air pollution for years to come. The new regulation will dramatically reduce emissions by installation of diesel soot filters and encouraging the replacement of older, dirtier engines with newer emission controlled models.

The new rules establish fleet averages for compliance. Click to enlarge. Source: ARB

By 2020, diesel particulate matter will be reduced by 74% and smog-forming oxides of nitrogen by 32%, compared to what emissions would be without the regulation.

The new rule also includes a provision allowing areas that are currently unable to achieve clean air standards set by the US EPA for particulate matter to opt in to stricter regional requirements if incentive funds are made available. The air districts that could take advantage of this provision are the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; both are considered non-attainment areas for particulate matter. Depending on the amount of incentive money made available, these provisions could as much as a double the NOx emissions benefits in these districts, setting them on a faster track to meeting their clean air goals.

The new rules apply to off-road vehicle engines of more than 25 hp. Labeling and annual reporting, the establishment of idling limits and limits on adding dirty vehicles to fleets beginning 2009. Control requirements begin in 2010.

The requirements and deadlines vary depending on fleet size. For small fleets, which include small businesses or municipalities with a combined horsepower of 2,500 or less, implementation does not begin until 2015. Medium fleets, with 2,501 to 5,000 horsepower, have until 2013, while large fleets, with more than 5,000 horsepower, must begin complying in 2010. Affected vehicles include bulldozers, loaders, backhoes and forklifts, as well as many other self-propelled off-road diesel vehicles.

Fleets have two paths to compliance:

  • Meet fleet emission targets by any method, such as NOx or PM exhaust retrofits; buying cleaner new or used vehicles; repowering (installing cleaner engines); and retiring dirty vehicles.

  • Demonstrate progress in reducing emissions with Best Available Control Technology (BACT). This is a “Safety valve” for fleets that cannot meet targets.

ARB performed a comprehensive economic analysis of the rule’s impact on business, concluding that the regulation will cost industry $3.0 - $3.4 billion over its lifetime. The industry hotly contested these figures, arguing that the cost to companies and government agencies would be more than $13 billion.

Staff reviewed individual companies’ financial records and conducted numerous workshops to discuss the cost of the regulation as well as impacts on individual businesses. ARB staff concluded that industry estimates were based on a normal turnover rate that was too low; assumed no fleets would meet the fleet average; and assumed vehicle prices that were too high. ARB staff stuck by their original estimate.

ARB did give special consideration to small businesses (e.g., small fleets have until 2015 to begin compliance, while large fleets must begin in 2010) to ensure that the regulation would not provide undue economic hardship.

The Board’s action also sets the stage for efforts next year to develop similar requirements for the hundreds of thousands of on-road trucks that travel on California’s roads every day.

According to ARB estimates, over its course, this new rule will prevent at least 4,000 premature deaths statewide and avoid $18-$26 billion in premature death and health costs.




There is a safer healthier option: eleconvert.
Altairnano nanosafe powered fleet vehicles like PG&E will be the norm in California and other states as soon as crash test completed in the next few days.
Phoenix Motorcars SUT and SUV to the rescue.


I love California.


I'm all in favor of converting to EVs as soon as possible, BUT...lets' be realistic here.
Where can we send you the bill? And where are all those factories that are cranking out advanced Li batteries and electric cars? (Plus, where's that magical fusion reactor that will make all the electricity needed?)

Yes, EVs are great, but even if magically every new vehicle sold today was EV, it would still take about a decade to replace even half of the fleet of industrial vehicles (especially since those tend to be bought with the expectation of a very long service life).

But in the next few years, only a small fraction of new vehicles can be EVs even if demand is huge. Just look at hybrids. Even though there was huge demand since late 2003 for the Prius, it took Toyota (a VERY large company) 3 years before they could make enough Prius to meet demand (15000-20000 per month). An even now, hybird are only at 2-3% of all vehicles sold in the US, and represent a much smaller % of all vehicles on the road. How exactly do you expect a small company to make these huge quantities of batteries to replace even 1 % of all those diesel engines out there.

In addition, you can't just expect people to get rid of their expensive investments (diesel vehicles, machines, etc.) and buy new ones. That's like telling homeowners they need to tear down their homes and build new ones, just because they're not energy efficient enough. Wouldn't it be better to just make everyone add insulation, get energy saving appliances, etc.

The next best thing is to at least get them to clean up the vehicles that are already out there (and will be for years to come), which is what ARB is finally doing. Thanks ARB.


"Phoenix Motorcars SUT and SUV to the rescue"

Gawd. Prototype on-road vehicles are not the solution to off-road equipment. Try powering a Cat D9 with those batteries.

joe blow

I'm all for reasonable emissions reductions...

Could someone please point me to some studies showing how safe gasoline particulate emissions are? Really, please, anyone, please point out the research.


Could someone please point me to some studies showing how safe gasoline particulate emissions are? Really, please, anyone, please point out the research.
Have you ever seen diesel exhaust? Are you blind, or just impaired?

P Schager

Where's that magical fusion reactor that will make all the electricity needed?

It's in the sky. You just have to look up during the daytime.

joe blow

"Have you ever seen diesel exhaust? Are you blind, or just impaired?"

Are you joking, or are you really that stupid?

Stan Peterson

Here is a case of where CARB is only slightly wrong-headed.

It is probably because none of these CARBite people care, or have any actual experience in dealing with the problems that they impose on the people they regulate.

It may be too aggressive a schedule and that is debatable but at least but it is being considered,and i won't criticize them for that.

Having gathered the low hanging fruit, CARB is turning to smaller sources of pollution. Having had the on-road diesel makers do the R&D to clean up the diesel engine, they are now turning to the lower tier manufacturers of off-road equipment manufacturers, to do the the same cleanup. But without levying the R&D requirements on them. The clean-up technology should be available almost off the shelf, requiring a relatively straight forward but necessary engineering integration and test effort.

Commendably, CARB did recognize that the life cycle of off road machinery is pretty long, so ordering the retrofit system on users is a logical extension.

But then they went completely wrong.

I do not see that there is still any explicit requirement on the manufacturers of new off road equipment to go to T2B5 technology very rapidly. But it may be there,but not emphasized.

Addressing the retrofit requirements, you don't really want each user to have to engineer a clean-up design for its "fleet". These "users" are not really equipped to do so, in the vast majority of cases. That is where the CARBites reveal their genuine ignorance.

Consider the typical "user" is perhaps a farmer who owns a tractor or two, a combine and a truck or two. Or alternatively, maybe a small construction firm that owns a bulldozer and perhaps a pay loader.

What does either know about engineering a catalytic converter, particulates filter, and an urea injection system for his John Deere or Cat? How is he to integrate them and test them? These users need help. That engineering job should have been explicitly tossed back to the original equipment makers to undertake such an effort.

They should have made a requirement for the OEM off road manufacturers:

a) to offer "Cleaned-up" T2B5 engines by say 2010-2012 for all their new equipment offered for sale in California.

b) to offer manufacturer engineered and certified, retrofit emissions equipment kits for their reasonably new products. E.g. for their products manufactured for the last 3-5 years. The OEMs could set up programs with their dealer/service network to install such kitted equipment.

c) to offer pre-sold engineered and certified re-engining warranty/upgrades including the newly required T2B5 upgraded emissions equipment, almost immediately, for equipment manufactured in the transition period of the next few years, until the mandatory cleaned-up equipment must be available for sale. (Not to dissimilar in concept, to buying a PC with a (future) upgrade for a newly promised OS, that is not yet shipping.)

The OEMs could set up programs with their dealer/service network to install such pre-sold and kitted equipment. The dealer/service network would most likely love such an arrangement, and even become knowledgeable and purposely train personnel in actually performing the same installation work for all its customers over and over.

Such installations would have a much higher probability of functioning as designed.

How much would you like to wager that John Q. Farmer, even if he did go out and purchase a cat converter and a particulate filter components and cobble them together, that he wouldn't get the system to work as desired? I'd wager near certainty, without a lot of assistance, that he couldn't find or afford on a one-off home brew situation, anyhow.

Once again CARB screws up ...

Kevin Moore

This is a tough issue. On the one hand, coming from the auto industry where consumers pay over $1B/year in emissions equipment for their cars in CA per year ($1.2B in 1990 - just quickly searching online), and yet there is no personal responsilibity to improve gross poluters or 1969 Caddys... this makes sense.

One the other hand, the timing is too aggressive. The problem has been around since 1910, but now it's got to be fixed in under 3 years? I agree with the previous post on the inability of off-road fleet owners in handling this themselves... I'm really forced to admit that you do need to work through the manufacturers.

Another issue is that this equipment will be difficult to package in vehicles not designed for them. And I mean difficult. Realize that if your car ran at full rated output (say 250hp) continuously, like a diesel does in off-road use, you'd need an exhaust and exhaust cooling system that would be larger than your trunk and/or rear seats... to remove the heat and allow the systems to function at proper temperatures. Off-road equipment wasn't made with these systems in mind (yet)... the same issue exists in spades in marine engine compartments.

But on the other hand, it's unfair that consumers are forced to pay for such extreme and amazingly successful emissions controls that come with your basic Ford Focus, and yet off-road sources have gotten a free pass for so long. I just think the state could be more generous with the timeline and limits on retrofit limitations.


Nanotech Products


Let me share an interesting story, 100% factual.
In 2000 & 2001, the California Clean Air Authorities directed our Australian company to test our newly developed emission control technology at one of their nominated laboratories in California, at a significant cost to us.

The results were outstanding by anyones standards, with carbon emissions reduced by 78% (YES>>>>78%) on a 1998 model V8 Chevvy motor, and NOX reduced by 46%(YES again, 46%). All emissions were significantly reduced but these were the star performers that everyone is talking about here. Fuel usage was also provably reduced by over 20% and this was probably the products downfall. Testing was done by engineers using $6 million dollars worth of equipment, and everything was filmed, locked down, with engine room seals etc...the whole nine yards of security to ensure honest results.

Weighed particle full spectrum testing was then signed off by a leading authority, a scientist with 3 Ph.D's in scientific emission testing, nominated by the Clean Air Department. He was amazed at the results and the lab staff were sure that we had a winner! They told us that our product was better than anything ever tested in California and exceeded manufacturers results and other products tested by the Clean Air Board by a huge margin i.e. other products delivered 4% at best, ours delivered 78% carbon reduction, 46% Nox reduction and improved fuel economy by over 20% in real terms.

We were then informed by the Board that our technology would require the payment of $12 million dollars, in order to be recertified and tested individually on several popular makes. Because we were not Americans, there was no support or grant available, even though our product, which costs $500 per car for a lifetime reduction of toxic emissions by over 90% compared to the lousy 4% available from other technologies.
We were unable to market our stuff without shelling out millions of dollars that we didnt have.

We were then subjected to the worst treatment possible, as 'friends of certain individuals connected with the Board' using our test results, tried to get control of our company and products by using underhanded tactics, threats, lies about what they could achieve in the market etc. We were left broke and totally demoralised and returned to Australia. Our own Govt. was no better and given the 'closeness' of Dubya and our own head honcho, and the oil industry angle of fuel usage reduction, that was no surprise.

Our technology has evolved significantly since 1998
so that all toxic emissions can now be reduced by 99% on any post 1986 model, and the 1960's monster V8s can be brought into current standards for a measly $500.

Is anyone out there with a lazy $20 million, to pay $12 million for the privilege of cleaning up American air, and the rest for actual product, and assisting us to get the product out there!!!

On overview, it is a small stainless steel, lifetime once-only product application per car (thats probably another reason why some vested interests dont like it!)
This product is equally applicable to diesels of any size, petrol vehicles of any size, trains, boats and planes have also been successfully fitted.
We are not crackpots, or wankers, just genuine people with a vested interest in breathing clean air...and US is a big market for any product.

Governor Schwarzenegger or other sincerely interested individual or organisation, please call Australia asap, anytime day or night, and you can reduce ALL emissions for a pittance compared to the grandstanding and billions that are being tossed about right now. Put the money where the mouth is AMERICA, and get rid of your pollution in 5 years. We love the American CAN DO attitude and have made some great friends over full documentation, engineers test results and top notch US referees can be provided. THIS IS FOR REAL and time is running out for us all.

Please call Elizabeth Orchard of Nanotech Products on +61 407 808282 or +61 418 808282

Nanotech Products

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