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CTA: Feds Must Crack Down on Truck Emission Control Tampering

In an appearance yesterday before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the Canadian Trucking Alliance called on the federal government to broaden its oversight powers under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) similar to those contained in the US Clean Air Act to prevent tampering of mandatory emission control devices on heavy trucks.

“In the US there are significant fines and legal consequences for the manufactures, sellers and installers of aftermarket devices and services designed to circumvent emission controls,” said Senior VP Stephen Laskowski explained to the committee. “In Canada no such powers exist under CEPA after the vehicle is sold to the consumer. This fact – coupled with spotty or non-existent provincial regulations and enforcement to prevent sales and installation of emissions control defeat devices – means that we now find ourselves in a situation where harmful environmental, and unfair business practices are allowed to continue, unchecked. This needs to be corrected.”

CTA’s submission outlined how the vast majority of the trucking industry complies with the environmental rules on equipment. While making no excuses for carriers who attempt to defeat or bypass the emissions control system, CTA’s submission also highlighted the industry’s frustration over the negative impact environmental control devices have had on equipment reliability and on driver well-being. CTA highlighted that volatile engine performance forced many fleets to add up to 20 per cent more trucks to their fleet than was required, just to cover the vehicles put out of service.

“This is obviously very frustrating for fleet owners, especially those who play by the rules and have to unfairly compete with carriers who have found aftermarket businesses that will disable the emissions control system,” says Laskowski. “Governments need to play a stronger role in not only cracking down on the tampering market, but also reducing demand for that market by correcting the reliability factor and offering carriers some recourse when new equipment doesn’t work properly.”

As such, CTA’s recommendations to the committee calls on the federal government to strengthen tampering regulations while at the same time strengthen emission control testing and vehicle recalls:

CTA Recommendations

(1)   That CEPA be amended to allow the Canadian federal government to enforce the same or similar penalties administered under the Clean Air Act for engine tampering.

(2)  Although it’s not ultimately the decision of the Government of Canada, that Transport Canada and Environment Canada assist CTA in championing for a tampering inspection that specifically looks for evidence of the EGR/DPF delete. It can be added to the Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection (PMVI) program and performed annually or semi-annually at private inspection facilities licensed and monitored by Canadian provincial and territorial governments, under the Section 11B of the National Safety Code (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators).

(3)   Environment Canada must begin working with Transport Canada to establish testing protocols for emission reduction qualifying technology and supporting wiring systems. There is no doubt Transport Canada is the lead federal department responsible for the motor vehicle safety mandate. This is evidenced by its statutory authority under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Furthermore, Transport Canada is presently engaged in testing the safety and environmental performance of passenger vehicles and heavy duty trucks through its ecoTechnology for Vehicles Program. All qualifying GHG-reduction technology and associated wiring must be tested by Transport Canada to ensure all technology imported into Canada meets our safety and climate conditions.

(4)  In June 2015, the Government of Canada introduced the Safer Vehicles for Canadians Act. The bill proposes new powers that would allow the Minister of Transport to order a company to issue a recall and require manufacturers to fix defective or non-compliant vehicles. The minister could also order manufacturers or importers to pay for repairs and ensure new vehicles perform reliably before they are sold to the public. In addition, manufacturers and importers can face fines of up to $200,000 per violation, per day, with no maximum cap through new administrative monetary penalties. These fines are an alternative to prosecution to help address safety issues more quickly. The Canadian government should re-examine the introduction and expansion of the Safer Vehicles for Canadians Act to better protect purchasers of commercial equipment.

(5) CTA supports a modified form of ‘limp mode’ technology. CTA urges the time/range of the limp mode function be extended so that drivers can reach a safe, cost effective location to have the component repaired, if required, or sensor reset.

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