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New Standards for Highway Motorcycles Contribute to Air Quality Improvements

Release Date: 12/23/2003
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Contact: John Millett, 202 564-7842 / millett.john@epa.gov

(12/23/03) - EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt today signed a final rule that establishes the first new emission standards for highway motorcycles in 25 years. Highway motorcycles currently produce more harmful exhaust emissions per mile than cars or even large sport utility vehicles. When the new rule is in full effect, it will reduce emissions of hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by about 54,000 tons a year and save approximately 12 million gallons of fuel annually by preventing it from escaping from fuel hoses and fuel tanks.

“These new rules significantly advance pollution standards for motorcycles,” said Leavitt. “Motorcycles, cars, SUVs, light- and heavy-duty trucks and off-road equipment will run cleaner than ever before, and America’s health and the environment will benefit.”

Starting in 2006, the standards will require manufacturers to reduce emissions of HC and oxides of nitrogen NOx by 60 percent. This will be accomplished through an increased use of proven technologies, such as secondary air injection, electronic fuel injection systems, and catalytic converters. The new standards will include previously unregulated small scooters and mopeds. EPA is also adopting standards, beginning in 2008, requiring the control of fuel loss (called “permeation”) through the fuel hoses and fuel tank.

HC and NOx are precursors to ground-level ozone, a serious air pollutant in cities across the United States. A key component of smog, ground-level ozone is formed by reactions involving hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight. Hydrocarbon emissions result from incomplete fuel combustion and from fuel evaporation. Ground-level ozone causes health problems such as difficulty breathing, lung damage, and reduced cardiovascular functioning. A number of hydrocarbons are also considered toxic, meaning they can cause cancer or other health problems.

The new emission controls will cost an average of $75 per motorcycle when the final phase takes effect in 2010. The average cost of current motorcycles is about $10,000.

For more information on this proposal and other transportation and air quality issues, visit:http://www.epa.gov/otaq/roadbike.htm .



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