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US EPA adopts Tier 3/4 emission standards for locomotives and marine engines

18 March 2008

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized new emission standards for locomotive and marine engines. The rule includes three components: (1) tightening of emission standards for existing locomotives when they are remanufactured, (2) near-term Tier 3 standards, and (3) long-term Tier 4 standards. The Tier 4 standards will require an 80% NOx reduction and a 90% PM emission reduction relative to today’s Tier 2 standards.

The adopted regulatory language is generally stronger than the EPA proposal of March 2007. Some of the changes include:

The final rule relaxed emission requirements for recreational vessels which do not need to comply with Tier 4 standards, due to the lack of ultra-low sulfur diesel in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The finalized standards cover all locomotives and some marine diesel engines, as follows:

The standards for remanufactured existing locomotives and marine diesel engines take effect as soon as certified remanufacture systems are available, as early as 2008.

The Tier 3 standards for newly-built locomotive and diesel marine engines phase-in starting in 2009. The rule also creates new idle reduction requirements for new and remanufactured locomotives and establishes a new generation of clean switch locomotives, based on clean nonroad diesel engine standards. Tier 3 standards reflect the application of engine based technologies to reduce engine-out PM and NOx emissions.

The Tier 4 standards for newly-built engines phase-in beginning in 2014 for commercial marine diesel engines and 2015 for locomotives (Tier 4 standards do not apply to recreational marine engines). These standards are based on catalytic aftertreatment technology such as diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction (SCR). Tier 4 standards are enabled by the availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel with sulfur content capped at 15 parts per million, which will be available by 2012.

The adoption of the standards was praised by environmental groups. GE, the largest US locomotive manufacturer, said the technology to comply with the Tier 4 requirements does not exist, but the company supports the regulation. GE strongly criticised the EPA proposal after it was published last year.

Source: US EPA