Diesel has a new champion in Washington with the formation of The Diesel Technology Forum. The group, which represents a large and growing list of engine, component and equipment manufacturers, will focus on a wide range of public issues involving diesel technology.
A first priority: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced program to reduce pollution from older engines through the use of existing pollution-reduction technology.
EPA says the program could affect hundreds of thousands of heavy duty diesel engines, although its goal in the first two years is to retrofit 10,000 units. Fleet owners will likely be offered some incentive to make the change -- perhaps through state or local programs that earn “credits” toward compliance with federal clean air programs -- but the details haven’t been pinned down. The Forum hopes to be involved in charting that course.
“All of our members are interested in making this program a success,” said Forum spokesman David Bartlett. The group will meet with EPA in the next couple of weeks to determine ways it can help.
But Forum activities won’t be limited to the retrofit program. “The possibilities are endless,” said Bartlett, noting everything from research programs on environmental and health issues to technology demonstration projects involving both light and heavy duty diesels.
As the debate over diesel -- particularly health issues -- heats up, the Forum will provide a single voice for the diesel industry and diesel users.
“In the current public debate about the future of diesel technology and applications, and in response to questions raised about the appropriate regulatory environment for diesel power, the industry’s voice and the user community’s voices have not always been heard,” said Caterpillar chairman Glen Barton. “The issues are too broad for any single company to address, and that is in part why the Forum was created.”
Bartlett said they’ll work with existing groups such as the Engine Manufacturers Assn., but won’t duplicate their work. “They have their own regulatory agendas, their own issues, they represent their own members.”
Member companies include Associates Commercial, Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Delco Remy, Donaldson, Eaton, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Honeywell, JCB, Komatsu, and Wabash, but Bartlett says they’ve heard from many more companies interested in joining. More information about the Forum can be obtained by calling (703) 234-4411.