Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman in a July 25
letter to Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) discussed cost and pre-buy issues
related to EPA's Oct. 1 deadline for lower emissions from diesel
LaHood and other legislators
recently asked the agency to delay the deadline, citing concerns
about engine performance, maintenance and cost.
"I want to clarify
that EPA does not have the authority to delay the October deadline
date," Whitman said. "The consent decrees (which stipulated
the October date) are binding legal orders which can only be altered
by the court." Both Caterpillar Inc., which is in LaHood's
district, and Detroit Diesel Corp., have asked the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia to delay the deadline.
Whitman also took issue
with claims that "non-conformance penalties" (NCPs)
for companies not meeting the deadline would have a devastating
impact on the trucking industry.
"There have been reports
in the press that the per-engine NCP will be $15,000. These reports
are simply not true ... We expect the actual per-engine penalty
will be in the range of $4,000 to $5,000," Whitman said.
"In fact, public information indicates the actual per-engine
price increase will be in the range of $3,000 to $3,500. This
price increase is certainly not insignificant, but would represent
only a 3 to 5 percent increase in the price of an average heavy-duty
Whitman also said pre-buying
activity is negligible so far. "We know that 2002 January
through May sales of Class 8 trucks were 53,814 compared to 61,063
for the same period in 2001. Based on these data, it is clear
that truck sales for the last several months have been lower than
sales during the same period in the past several years, suggesting
that a major pre-buy has not yet occurred - at least through May
of this year."