EPA Sets Guidelines
Already challenged by greenies
You've probably already heard the news that the Environmental Protection Agency is going to develop emission standards for snowmobiles and other non-road engines.
So what does it all mean to our sport?
Before we get to that, though, you probably also know that environmental activists are already trying to derail the new emission regulations (see Dec. 13 entry on the SnoWest website-www.snowest.com-as well as the story in this issue about the lawsuit).
We want to point out something pretty significant before we get to the meat of the proposed EPA regulations. First, quoting Ed Klim, president of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, "The January 2001 decision to ban snowmobiles from the road systems of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks was an unwarranted political action without factual or legal justification. Present snowmobile use in Yellowstone consists of about 65,000 individual snowmobiles each year. These snowmobiles have never caused a violation of National Ambient Air Quality Standards."
Yes, Klim is specifically talking about Yellowstone, but the information he gives has everything to do with regulating emissions on snowmobiles.
The EPA was pretty straightforward with what it wants done with snowmobiles. By 2006, emission levels must be reduced to 70 percent of levels permitted in 2002. By 2010, emissions must be reduced to half of present day levels and by 2012 snowmobiles emissions can amount to only 30 percent of present levels.
Although Klim said those numbers are attainable, those are pretty hefty reductions.
The EPA has lumped snowmobiles into a category with lots of other non road engines, such as off-highway motorcycles, ATVs, diesel marine engines and large industrial spark-ignition engines. Again, citing numbers from the EPA, all these engines combined account for about 9 percent of HC emissions, 4 percent of CO emissions, 3 percent of Nox emissions and 2 percent of PM emissions.
CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced from the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Particulate Matter (PM) is a broad class of chemically and physically diverse substances. Nox is nitrogen emissions.
The EPA said by enacting these new regulations on all these engines, HC emissions will be reduced by 71 percent, Nox emissions by 80 percent and CO emissions by about 57 percent-from these engines alone.
Of course, these new regulations only affect new snowmobiles produced in 2006 or later. Any snowmobile you have now is not covered under the new rules. Also, these new emission standards don't specify which emission controls the snowmobile manufacturers must use to comply with the regulations. The EPA doesn't care how the Big Four accomplish it, just so long as they do. Ski-Doo might reach the mark with its Semi Direct Injection while, say, Arctic Cat does it with its four-stroke. All you have to do is look at the PWC market to see what's being done there.
Citing EPA figures, the government organization estimates it would cost about $50 for a modified two-stroke engine to meet the regulations. The cost jumps to $300 for direct-injection technology and up to $900 for a four-stroke engine with fuel injection.
While you're digesting all that, know also that the EPA is also adopting requirements to control permeation emissions from snowmobile fuel systems. The agency is aiming to reduce fuel permeation from snowmobile fuel tanks and hoses. Fixing that would tack on another $10.
Not to take too much from the ISMA release in this issue, Klim did say the EPA regulations are founded well in sound and unbiased scientific data. And, he adds, the Big Four are working hard to meet the requirements, pointing out that there are some models already in compliance.