WASHINGTON, DC, May 11, 2004 (ENS):
Tractors, crawlers, skidders, loaders, backhoes, excavators,
snowplows - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Michael Leavitt today finalized a rule to cut more than
90 percent of harmful emissions from the diesel engines
used in these agricultural and industrial pieces of
equipment that do not travel on public highways.
The announcement of the final non-road diesel rule
earned the Bush administration rare praise from environmentalists
and public health advocates.
"It is remarkable that these strong rules come
from the same administration that has otherwise turned
back the clock on 30 years of environmental progress,"
said U.S. Public Interest Research Group Clean Air Advocate
Emily Figdor. "It is great to see science win out
over the special interests for a change."
The new regulation will remove 99 percent of the sulfur
in the diesel fuel used by these engines by 2012 and
forces the industry to use cleaner engines by 2014.
The rule is similar to regulations set by the Clinton
administration and currently being implemented for diesel
engines that power on-road vehicles.
Non-road diesel engines are a major contributor to
the nation's air pollution, spewing out large amounts
of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen
oxides. These pollutants cause respiratory illness and
are linked to thousands of premature deaths each year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the
cost of cleaner diesel fuel and tighter emissions controls
are outweighed by the benefits to public health and
the environment by a ratio of 40 to one.
The new rule cuts the sulfur content in non-road diesel
fuel from the current average of 3,400 parts per million
(ppm) to 500 ppm in 2007 - the same standard as current
highway diesel fuel.
The rule calls for this standard to be further tightened
to 15 ppm by 2010, but gives diesel trains, boats and
ships until 2012 to meet the final standard.
The decision to give those sectors an additional two
years drew some criticism from environmentalists otherwise
pleased with the final rule.
"With an opportunity to score a slam dunk, at
the last minute the Bush administration committed an
unnecessary foul," said Frank O'Donnell of the
Clean Air Trust. "There was literally no reason
to postpone that cleanup other than to appease campaign
contributors from the oil industry."
Industry arguments that cleaning up the fuel for those
sectors on the timetable set for the rest of the non-road
diesel industry would be too expensive appear "pretty
hollow in light of recent reports of very healthy oil
company profits," O'Donnell said.
Diesel locomotive and marine engines are a major source
of pollution - the EPA says they comprise more than
25 percent of fine particle soot from all non-road diesel
The availability and use of cleaner fuel will enable
the second component of the EPA's plan, which is the
requirement that new engines meet tighter emissions
standards for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter
The new standards will cut these emissions, which form
smog and soot, by more than 90 percent.
The cleaner non-road engine standards do not cover
the marine and train sectors - today the EPA will announce
a rulemaking process to set those standards.
The EPA estimates that by all non-road diesel engines
in use will meet the new standards by 2030 and predicts
major health benefits.
By 2030, controlling non-road diesel emissions would
annually prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 8,900 hospitalizations,
and one million lost work days, according to the agency.
"This rule will help protect seniors, children
and people with lung diseases including asthma, who
are the most vulnerable to the harm from air pollution,"
said John Kirkwood, president and CEO of the American
"According to the American Lung Association 'State
of the Air: 2004' report, more the one in four Americans
live in areas with unhealthy levels of particle pollution.
Exposure to particle pollution leads to premature death.
The clean up of non-road diesel is necessary to protect
The non-road rule will not be easy for the industry
to implement, but it is "firmly committed to continuous
progress and a cleaner environment," said Allen
Schaeffer, president of The Diesel Technology Forum,
an industry group that represents manufacturers of engines,
fuel and emissions control systems.
EPA officials say they worked closely with industry
groups to mitigate the economic impact of the rule.
According to industry figures there are more than six
million pieces of equipment powered by nonroad diesel
engines and some 650,000 new pieces are sold each year.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights