Canada announces new vehicle regulations to reduce pollution

New vehicle regulations to reduce air pollution have been announced for Canada. The new regulations will bring Canada in line with environmental regulations already in place in the United States, according to information from the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). The regulations are expected to lead to the production of a new generation of heavy diesel trucks that will be virtually free of smog causing emissions.

"Truck fuels and engine emissions have been regulated on a progressively more stringent basis in North America since the 1970's, says David Bradley, CTA chief executive officer. "The new regulations are simply the next step in that process, though perhaps the most spectacular."

New fuels and engines will likely cost more than current engines and fuels, at least in the beginning. There also remain many unanswered questions in terms of their impact on such things as fuel efficiency and maintenance costs. "So long as carriers on both sides of the border are required to operate under the same standards, the impact will be equitable," Bradley says.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides, a major contributor to smog as well as emissions of particulate matter, which is linked to respiratory and other health problems, will be cut by 95 and 90 percent, respectively, by the time the 2007 model year is introduced to the marketplace. Changes in engine emission standards will begin to take effect as early as October 2002, according to CTA.

In order to achieve the aggressive emission reductions, heavy diesel truck engines will employ new technological add-ons such as cooled exhaust gas re-circulation; particulate traps; NOx absorbers or other technologies currently under development. And, they will run on technology enabling ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Both the United States and Canada have mandated a 97 per cent reduction in the sulfur content of truck diesel fuel from 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million by 2006. Sulfur is a contributor to the production of particulate matter. The new Canadian fuel regulations were introduced in December 2001.

"The key, in environmental terms, however, is to accelerate the penetration of cleaner fuels and engines into the marketplace," Bradley says. "To us that suggests two things: First, the finance minister should give serious consideration in his next budget to tax incentives for companies that invest in the new technologies and fuels. Second, the ministers of the environment and transport should move immediately to address a glaring exemption in the regulation that exists for the rail freight companies.

"Canada does not regulate the emissions from rail diesel fuel or from diesel locomotive engines. If this does not happen, not only will the trucking industry be put at a competitive disadvantage, but the environment will continue to suffer."

A recent study for the Canadian government indicated that rail diesel fuel can have a sulfur content as high as 2500 ppm, or 166 times that of the new truck diesel fuel standard. In Eastern Canada particularly, it was found that the fuel used in locomotives is essentially home furnace oil. Another suggests that the introduction of new, higher powered locomotives has led to a reduction in fuel consumption, but produces more emissions per unit of fuel consumed, Bradley says.

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