TMA Seeks to Alter Clean Air Act Decrees

The Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) has asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to admit TMA as a party to three Clean Air Act consent decrees. This action has been taken to provide sufficient time for truck manufacturers to engineer and test the new engines without causing production disruptions.

These consent decrees, approved by the court in 1999, required certain engine manufacturers (including Caterpillar Inc, Cummins Engine Co, and Detroit Diesel Corp) to pay fines and take other action to settle charges by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the companies had violated the Clean Air Act. The decrees settled a dispute between EPA and the engine makers over interpretation of provisions of the Clean Air Act and federal regulations dealing primarily with emission levels under operating conditions not included in the federal test procedure.

The three TMA members participating in the motion—Freightliner LLC, General Motors Corp, and Isuzu Motors America Inc—-were not involved in the engine companies' dispute with EPA, but are affected by it. Freightliner and General Motors purchase nearly all of the engines used in their medium- and heavy-duty trucks from the three engine companies.

Under the three decrees, the engine manufacturers are required to provide cleaner engines to the truck manufacturers under a schedule that takes effect in October 2002. This is 15 months before the original date provided in the EPA regulation that applies to all engine manufacturers in January 2004. According to TMA, the engine companies that signed the consent decrees have fallen behind schedule in designing engines that can comply with the requirements of the consent decrees.

TMA said in its motion that, as of the time of filing, the engine manufacturers have not provided a single final-prototype engine to the truck manufacturers participating in its motion that would meet the October 2002 requirements. TMA members provided sworn statements that truck manufacturers need at least two years to redesign and test their trucks after final prototypes and new engine specifications are provided. This is substantially less time than the four-year lead time the Clean Air Act itself requires EPA to give both engine and vehicle manufacturers.

TMA is seeking modification of the consent decrees, such as a delay in the October 2002 deadline, that would avert the shutdowns even if such changes require the engine manufacturers to provide emissions “offsets” of any loss in benefits that would result from such a delay.

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