The Canadian Trucking Alliance applauded a recent University of Toronto study calling for a crackdown on tampering of heavy truck emissions control technology but also pointed out the trucking industry should be proud of being the only freight mode that has virtually eliminated air pollutants from diesel engines and is the only one to use mandated carbon-reducing equipment.
The two-year study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and involving researchers at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, claims large trucks are the greatest contributors to black carbon emissions close to major roadways.
While it’s the industry’s mission to get any outstanding polluting trucks off the roadways, CTA points out that any trucks manufactured after 2007 virtually eliminate cancer-causing particulates. Since then, the industry has embraced the reduction of carbon emissions from the trucking industry and supported Phase I and Phase II Environment Canada regulations governing carbon reductions from heavy trucks. These regulations led to the “near zero emissions” diesel engine – as it’s been dubbed by the Environmental Protection Agency – which will reduce carbon emissions from by 241.1 megatonnes between 2020-2029 at a cost of $6.1 billion to the industry.
Although the regulations were a necessary, progressive step toward reducing the trucking industry’s carbon footprint and air quality impact, CTA highlights the industry’s operational struggles with the environmental control devices, which brought higher maintenance costs, volatile engine performance –forcing many fleets to add up to 20 percent more trucks to cover the increase of vehicles put out of service – and higher fuel consumption.
“While no one is disputing there is room for improvement, the trucking industry should be very proud of the advancements it’s made to eliminate pollution and carbon emissions from diesel engines,” says CTA’s Geoff Wood, senior VP, Policy.
As this progress has come with significant increases in the purchase price of vehicles and operating and maintenance costs, a small, but growing minority of fleets, have taken to removing emission control equipment from trucks to increase reliability and reduce operating expenses.
For this reason, CTA was encouraged by the UofT report’s conclusion, echoing the Alliance’s call for government to increase powers to tackle tampering and the installation of delete kits in the trucking industry.
“Substantial fines or loss of licence, should be imposed on operators caught tampering with vehicle emissions systems,” states the report. “Trucks equipped with modern emissions treatment systems should not be polluting.”
CTA suggests the government should take enforcement even further by targeting the suppliers of anti-emissions systems devices and services. The Alliance points the U.S. as an example, where there are significant fines and legal consequences for the manufactures, sellers and installers of aftermarket devices and services designed to circumvent emission controls.
“Compliance needs to be rewarded, not the other way around,” says Wood. “We welcome the conclusions of this report which finds that tampering is a growing problem that interferes with environmental progress while also hampering the competitiveness and growth of law-abiding, environmentally conscious carriers.
“We now find ourselves in a situation where harmful environmental, and unfair business practices are allowed to continue, unchecked. This needs to be corrected to maintain the integrity of the industry and the protect the environment.”
Although it’s not ultimately the decision of the Government of Canada, CTA says Transport Canada and Environment Canada should encourage the provinces to enforce tampering. Th province of Ontario recently announced a significant policy to address tampering.
Additionally, the federal government, through a heavy truck green technology incentive program, could offset some of the rising costs associated with carbon reduction by expediting the market penetration of ancillary devices and technology such as anti-idling, aerodynamics for tractors and trailers, wide-based single tires, driver monitoring and telematics and hybrid-electric propulsion systems.
“The bottom line is there is no viable alternative to the diesel engine, so removing some of the barriers to the newest and greenest carbon-reduction equipment makes sense and rewards an industry that is already the most regulated from a pollution and carbon emissions standpoint,” says Wood.