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CARB adopts HD Low NOx Omnibus rule, updates At-Berth regulation

28 August 2020

At its hearing on August 27, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved two new regulations designed to reduce emissions from heavy-duty truck engines and from marine vessels in California ports:

HD Low NOx Regulation. The rule will require manufacturers to comply with tougher emission standards, overhaul engine testing procedures, and extend engine useful life and warranty periods. The focus of the rule is to ensure durable reductions of NOx emissions from in-use vehicles, including vehicles operated at low engine load, in such real-world operations as slow urban traffic.

The regulation is expected to have a significant impact on communities adjacent to railyards, ports and warehouses that typically experience heavy truck traffic. These trucks often idle, move slowly and make frequent stops. Today’s heavy-duty trucks do not control NOx effectively during such “low load” conditions, CARB said in their press release.

The adopted requirements are consistent with the June 2020 proposal. The main provisions are:

  1. Lower NOx emission standards, including 0.050 g/bhp-hr (FTP/RMC) from 2024 and 0.02 g/bhp-hr (FTP/RMC) from 2027.
  2. A new low load certification cycle (LLC) and corresponding NOx emission limits that transition from 0.2 g/bhp-hr (2024) to 0.05 g/bhp-hr (2027, 435,000 miles useful life).
  3. New useful life periods of up to 800,000 miles, compared to today’s 435,000 miles.

The adopted emission standards apply to new California-certified heavy-duty diesel and Otto cycle (HDO) engines intended for vehicles with GVWR > 10,000 lbs.

The development of the lower NOx regulation was conducted, to some degree, in cooperation with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In January 2020, the EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule (ANPR), dubbed the “Cleaner Trucks Initiative”. A federal regulation would clearly have a stronger emission reduction impact, and would be preferred by engine and vehicle manufacturers. However, the EPA lagged behind schedule, and a proposed rule is unlikely to be unveiled before the November election.

At-Berth Regulation. The rule builds on the At-Berth Regulation adopted in 2007. Vessels covered under the existing regulation include container ships, “reefers” (carrying refrigerated cargo) and cruise ships. The updated regulation adds auto carriers and tankers, two categories that produce 56% of all fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) from ocean-going vessels at berth in California ports.

The existing regulation stays in force through 2022; the updated regulation starts in 2023 when container, reefer and cruise vessels—already included under the previous rule—will transition to the new regulation. Auto carriers will need to comply starting in 2025. Tankers docking at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach must also comply starting in 2025, while tankers in Northern California have until 2027.

The rule requires that every vessel coming into a regulated California port either use shore power or a CARB-approved control technology to reduce emissions of diesel PM, PM2.5, NOx, reactive organic gases (ROG), greenhouse gases, and oxides of sulfur (SOx). One example of an alternative to shore power is what is known as capture-and-control technology that employs a “bonnet” to cover a ship’s exhaust stacks, both containing and treating harmful emissions.

Ship owners, terminal and port operators that need additional time to comply may petition the Board to use alternative means of achieving equivalent or greater emissions reductions in port-adjacent communities. An example would be purchasing zero-emission heavy-duty trucks for port use.

The updated regulation includes an interim evaluation, to be conducted in 2022, to evaluate progress and identify any problems relating to implementation or compliance with the updated At-Berth Regulation.

Source: CARB