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
The announcement of the final non-road diesel rule earned the Bush
administration rare praise from environmentalists and public health
"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
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
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
"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 engines.
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 by 2014.
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 Lung Association.
"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 public health."
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 Reserved.