SPECIAL REPORT: Navistar tries to block rivals' role in EPA lawsuit
WASHINGTON -- Navistar doesn't want its competitors butting into its court challenge of the EPA's decision to allow a rival technology for 2010 engines.
In yet another petition filed with the federal Court of Appeals, Navistar -- which, as it's well known by now, is the only major truck OEM not using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology in upcoming 2010 engines -- is attempting to block pro-SCR truck makers from getting a say in the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. Not holding back any punches, the company also used the opportunity to further attack the EPA and SCR as a viable technology.
Last week Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Volvo and Mack responded to the original suit against EPA by collectively filing what's known in legal jargon as a Amici Curiae (AC) motion (literally translated to "friends of the court").
The purpose, as todaystrucking.com reported last week, was to "offer a important perspective on the issues raised in Navistar's petitions … that would assist the court in understanding the industry as well as significant consequences" to SCR manufacturers" if Navistar wins its case. Also, the SCR companies want to ensure that the '10 EPA rule is not delayed by Navistar's proceedings.
Navistar, not surprisingly, is asking the court to reject the AC. It predicts that its competitors will "not offer a unique and important perspective” and will only echo the briefings EPA already filed with the court. The company also brushed off SCR manufacturers' position that they have “expended significant resources" to develop the technology, since most of the truckmakers had been using similar SCR solutions in Europe.
Using strong language, the truckmaker also elaborated on its complaint against EPA, which it claims "has been diverted from its environmental mission and somehow talked into an environmentally hostile action" and "illegally accommodated the SCR manufacturers outside of the public eye."
Navistar accuses the EPA of betraying its own stance in 2001 that SCR would not be a feasible technology. At that time EPA questioned whether the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which is needed as part of the aftertreatment solution to eliminate NOx, would be widely available and whether failures to replenish DEF would result in a “total loss of NOx control."
In particular, Navistar contends that by changing course, EPA improperly allowed SCR systems to incorporate a 'ramped shutdown' feature in case DEF tanks run dry. Navistar likens this allowance to a "licence to pollute" and "pollution for convenience."
A lot has changed since 2001, of course, but Navistar insists the agency reversed its decision on SCR improperly, without calling for transparent public meetings or affording the required due processes.
In fact, Navistar all but accuses EPA from acting in cahoots with SCR makers to avoid the proper channels in establishing the SCR Guidance published earlier this year.
Citing SCR makers' own claim of working "closely and cooperatively" with the EPA, Navistar says they "convinced EPA to permit them to use SCR technology, not because it was cleaner but because it was cheaper for them to deploy, since they had already developed and used it elsewhere."
In a terse public response, Volvo Trucks spokesman Jim McNamara says Navistar's latest move is a "desperate attempt to mislead the court.
"There is absolutely no benefit to society, customers or the environment in the approach Navistar has deliberately chosen to confuse this very important issue."
McNamara also blasted Navistar's move to lift a quote out of context from Volvo's website. The line, -- "If NOx gases are selectively eliminated in a downstream aftertreatment chamber, the level of NOx produced by the engine can be significantly higher" -- is used in Navistar's court motion against EPA.
"While refreshingly candid," Navistar says of the quote, "that statement leaves no doubt that what is actually going to happen is that NOx air quality will degrade."
The full quote, however, is: "Volvo's technique for further reduction of NOx is through the aftertreatment of engine exhaust. If NOx gases are selectively eliminated in a downstream aftertreatment chamber, the level of NOx produced by the engine can be significantly higher. This approach allows the engine to be retuned for maximum fuel efficiency."
In a follow up interview with todaystrucking.com this morning, McNamara says Navistar "conveniently obscures" the fact that the EPA regulation measures NOx output from the exhaust stack and not from the engine. "So, whatever Navistar has to say about the NOx levels coming only out of the engine is meaningless in this context because we treat it in the exhaust aftertreatment.
"In fact, one of the things that's useful in having higher NOx output (in the diesel engine) -- and this is something we've been promoting recently -- is that it allows us to have no active regenerations of the DPF.
He continues: "The (website) statement makes it clear that what we'll be doing is increasing the level of NOx at the engine to achieve all these additional benefits and then eliminating it before it ever reaches the atmosphere."