Lift Trucks Hit with More Stringent Emission Standards in California

The California Air Resources Board (ARB, Sacramento) has voted to adopt more stringent emission standards and test procedures for lift trucks and similar industrial equipment.

"Our focus on cleaning up cars and trucks has lead to dramatic improvements in our air quality over the past 30 years,” said Dr. Robert F. Sawyer, ARB Chair. “We are now adding focus to the cleanup of engines used in off-road equipment such as lift trucks.”

Reducing emissions from these engines will help reduce the health impact of pollution experienced by millions of Californians who live in areas that still do not meet state or federal health-based ambient air quality standards, he added.

The ARB's new rule has two elements. The first requires lift truck engine manufacturers to meet more stringent emission limits for new lift trucks sold in California. The second element requires operators of existing lift trucks to reduce emissions by retrofit, or replacement of the engines or equipment with cleaner models. This approval by the board will reduce smog-forming hydrocarbon and NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions by 5.6 tons per day in 2010 and 6.2 tons per day in 2020. That is equivalent to removing over 200,000 cars from the road.

"Although we have previously regulated lift trucks, it was time to renew our efforts and clean them up further. Today's vote puts updated rules in place to continue our progress toward clean air for all Californians," Sawyer said.

Lift trucks, and other similar engines affected by this regulation, use automotive engines fueled with gasoline, propane or natural gas. Previous emission standards adopted by ARB in 1998 cut emissions by 75%, beginning with 2004 models. By comparison, the current standards for new passenger cars have reduced emissions by more than 98%. The new standards adopted today for new lift trucks and similar engines will require emission reductions of about 95%. In addition, fuel evaporative emissions will be controlled for the first time.

Most lift truck engines built since 1990 can be retrofit with a catalytic converter that reduces emissions by 75%. Operators of lift trucks will be required to retrofit existing lift trucks, or replace them with newer, lower emission models, by 2009. A special provision has been added to reduce the cost of the regulation to agriculture. It allows continued operation (rather than replacement) of lift trucks that cannot be retrofit (about 60% of agricultural lift trucks). Other provisions exempt owners of three lift trucks or less. This provision exempts 70% of the forklift fleets from the regulation, with only a small loss of emission reduction. Some forklift operators may also be eligible for incentive funding if they move quickly to clean up their fleet.

Source: California Air Resources Board

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