US diesel truck emissions decreased significantly

In less than 20 years, the trucking industry has managed to cut diesel truck and heavy equipment emissions by more than 95 percent, according to new research from Randall-Reilly, a trucking marketing company. Since 1996, stricter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations have decreased the maximum allowable diesel exhaust, changing the logistics industry. The gas releases fine particulate matter into the air, which can cause smog and public health concerns, EPA research stated.

By 2014, all off-road diesel equipment will be required to meet the stricter policies, reducing emissions in this category by 96 percent. When the new regulations are completely implemented, trucks and off-road equipment will have decreased nitrogen oxide emissions by 738,000 tons and 129,000 tons of particulate matter per year.

The regulations have effectively reduced pollution from trucking as the industry has adapted. Virtually all new trucks on the road today meet the new standards. The study said a new 18-wheeler vehicle can travel from Chicago to Baltimore without emitting more air pollution than grilling hamburgers for a family of four. The new trucks are so much cleaner it would take 60 units to match the equivalent of emissions of one from 1988. 

The significant decrease in air pollution has been achieved by improving engine technologies in the following ways:

  • Advanced diesel fuel injection
  • Computerized engine controls
  • Improved engine air management
  • Upgraded exhaust filters to contain particulate matter
  • Reduction of sulfur levels in diesel fuel

The EPA stated some older diesel trucks are not subject to new regulations and may be on the road for another 25 to 30 years, but they can be retrofitted with pollution controls and cleaner diesel fuel can reduce emissions. Logistics will remain an important industry as manufacturing increases, and providers adapt by moving toward more sustainable practices. 

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