January 27, 2021 |
Diesel Technology Forum Opposes HB0084, Cites Importance of Integrated Emissions Controls, Machine Performance, Clean Air Act Compliance
January 27, 2021 (Frederick, MD) – In virtual testimony today before the House Economic Matters Committee of the Maryland General Assembly, the Diesel Technology Forum opposed so-called Right to Repair legislation (HB0084) as facilitating illegal tampering with emissions control devices and increasing ozone-forming emissions in Maryland, among other concerns.
“If enacted, HB0084 has the potential to make Maryland’s air dirtier, not cleaner, jeopardize heavy-equipment safety for both farmers, vehicle service technicians and the general public that share roads, and facilitate a practice that is in clear violation of the federal Clean Air Act,” said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Frederick, Maryland based Diesel Technology Forum.
“Modifying engine computers to boost performance can result in higher operating and exhaust temperatures, overheating, accelerated wear and stress on high-speed parts like power take offs and hydraulic and belt-driven systems. There are a number of documented cases of personal injury from tractors and machines where unauthorized engine programming modifications were made.
“Diesel engines and fuel power nearly all farm tractors and machines thanks to its unique combination of efficiency, power, durability and reliability. Over the last two decades, manufacturers of diesel engines and equipment have invested billions of dollars to reduce emissions and meet federal clean air requirements. As a result, today new diesel models of everything from highway tractor trailers to construction machines, work boats and farm tractors now achieve near zero emissions for both nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
“These advances in lower emissions are a key part of Maryland’s clean air plan and achieving the national ambient air quality standards here in our state. Achieving near-zero emissions in new diesel engines is accomplished thanks to a highly integrated system controlled by engine control units – ensuring on a real time basis that the engine performance of the machine is meeting EPA emissions standards and is in compliance with safety requirements.
“This legislation seeking to provide so called Right to Repair opportunities could also be titled ‘Right to Tamper’, as it seeks to legitimize and facilitate the modifying of farm equipment software. Being sold as ‘boosting performance for pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of buying higher-capacity equipment.’ In fact, this practice may void the equipment’s warranty along with insurance agreements and is illegal in the U.S.
“The U.S. Clean Air Act requires equipment manufacturers to build in base level tampering safeguards in emissions control units/engine computers. Restricting access to software that defines the machine’s emissions performance is part of these base level tampering safeguards put in place to meet the requirements of the Act.
“A new development since this Committee heard testimony on this topic in March of 2020 is that U.S. EPA Air Enforcement Division (AED) released a substantial report in November of 2020 regarding the incidence of tampering with diesel engines and emissions controls.
“Based on EPA enforcement action a substantial portion of the subject vehicles identified by U.S. EPA enforcement actions had software modifications to their engine emissions control units. As a result, U.S. EPA AED estimates that the emissions controls have been removed from more than 550,000 diesel pickup trucks nationwide in the last decade. As a result of this tampering, more than 570,000 tons of excess oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and 5,000 tons of particulate matter (PM) will be emitted by these tampered trucks over the lifetime of the vehicles.
“The report did not directly quantify the extent of tampering in off-road engines and equipment but it notes that ‘...AED has reason to believe this conduct occurs within most or all categories of vehicles and engines, including commercial trucks, passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, motorcycles, forestry equipment, and agricultural equipment.’
“Beyond the increased emissions of nitrogen oxides from modifications to the engine control unit under Right to Repair legislation HB0084, it will make Maryland’s ozone non-attainment status worse and increase nitrogen deposition impacts in the Chesapeake Bay, and we are also concerned with the safety and reliability/durability issue that could be caused by changes to other machine functions that are controlled by software.
“Over the last two decades, the Diesel Technology Forum has been an active participant and consistent supporter of efforts to reduce in-use diesel emissions in Maryland. This includes working with the Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Port Authority, the Ozone Transport Commission and EPA Regional and EPA HQ efforts, and a Diesel Emissions Reduction dialogue lead by the Maryland Environmental Health Network to name a few. Three years ago, the Diesel Technology Forum was in Annapolis in support of since enacted legislation establishing higher fines and penalties for those found to be emitting excessive exhaust emissions from pickup trucks – a practice known as rolling coal, that is facilitated by altering the programming of the truck engine and or modifying the emissions control systems.
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About the Diesel Technology Forum
The Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit https://www.dieselforum.org/.
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