EPA Loosens Alternative Fuel Conversion Rules for Vehicles

by | Mar 31, 2011

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated rules to make it easier for manufacturers to sell fuel conversion systems that allow vehicles to run on alternative fuels.

The revised procedures will vary based on the age of the vehicle or engine being converted. The agency said has found that the procedures for older vehicles and engines can be streamlined, while maintaining environmental safeguards.

The EPA’s process is now based on whether a vehicle or engine is new, of intermediate age, or outside its expected useful life.

Fuel conversion systems alter an existing vehicle or engine to enable it to run on a different type of fuel. One example of this type of conversion is retrofitting a car designed for gasoline, so the vehicle can run on compressed natural gas.

While properly engineered conversion systems can reduce or at least not increase emissions, poorly designed systems can lead to much more pollution, the EPA said.

The new rules for are in keeping with the president’s January 18, 2011, executive order, which directs agencies to identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public, the EPA said.

President Obama’s order called for agencies to, among other things, “identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including providing economic incentives to encourage the desired behavior, such as user fees or marketable permits, or providing information upon which choices can be made by the public.”

Previous EPA regulations required vehicle and engine conversion systems to be covered by a certificate of conformity to gain a regulatory exemption from potential tampering charges. This has been deemed too rigid a structure by the EPA.

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