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California air board adopts new 
rules for forklift emissions 

SACRAMENTO (06/07/06) -- The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted more stringent emission standards and test procedures for forklifts and similar industrial equipment. 

"Our focus on cleaning up cars and trucks has lead to dramatic improvements in our air quality over the past 30 years. We are now adding focus to the cleanup of engines used in off-road equipment such as forklifts. Reducing emissions from these engines will help reduce the health impact of pollution experienced by millions of Californians who live in areas that still do not meet state or federal health-based ambient air quality standards," said Dr. Robert F. Sawyer, ARB Chair. 

The ARB's new rule has two elements. The first requires forklift engine manufacturers to meet more stringent emission limits for new forklifts sold in California. The second element requires operators of existing forklifts to reduce emissions by retrofit, or replacement of the engines or equipment with cleaner models. The ARB's action will reduce smog-forming hydrocarbon and NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions by 5.6 tons per day in 2010 and 6.2 tons per day in 2020. That is equivalent to removing over 200,000 cars from the road.

"Although we have previously regulated forklifts, it was time to renew our efforts and clean them up further. Today's vote puts updated rules in place to continue our progress toward clean air for all Californians," Sawyer added. 

Forklifts, and other similar engines affected by this regulation, use automotive engines fueled with gasoline, propane or natural gas. Previous emission standards adopted by ARB in 1998 cut emissions by 75 percent, beginning with 2004 models. By comparison, the current standards for new passenger cars have reduced emissions by more than 98 percent. The new standards  for new forklifts and similar engines will require emission reductions of about 95 percent. In addition, fuel evaporative emissions will be controlled for the first time. 

Most forklift engines built since 1990 can be retrofit with a catalytic converter that reduces emissions by 75 percent. Operators of forklifts will be required to retrofit existing forklifts, or replace them with newer, lower emission models, by 2009. A special provision has been added to reduce the cost of the regulation to agriculture. It allows continued operation (rather than replacement) of forklifts that cannot be retrofit (about 60 percent of agricultural forklifts). Other provisions exempt owners of 3 forklifts or less. This provision exempts 70 percent of the forklift fleets from the regulation, with only a small loss of emission reduction. Some forklift operators may also be eligible for incentive funding if they move quickly to clean up their fleet.

More information on the new rules is available online.

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