EPA Adopts Nonroad Diesel Rule

May 14, 2004 - 09:36

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule, a comprehensive national program aimed at reducing emissions from nonroad diesel engines. It is the latest in a series of Clean Diesel actions that are designed by the EPA to reduce emissions from nearly every type of diesel vehicle and equipment.

According to the Associated Press, EPA analyzed that about 159 million people live in areas where smog or microscopic soot is making the air unhealthy. Off-road vehicles used in construction, framing, industrial plants and airports are one reason for the pollution problem. The new Diesel Rule requires heavy pollution controls on diesel engines used in industries such as construction, agriculture and mining. It combines cleaner engine technologies with cleaner fuel, similar to the EPA's on-highway diesel program regulated in 1993.

"It is a change that will result in the people of this nation living longer and living better," said EPA administrator Mike Leavitt in a recent article by the Associated Press, who signed the new regulation on Tuesday, May 10. Diesel fuel currently contains as much as 3,400 ppm of sulfur. The EPA estimates that nonroad diesel engines account for about 60 percent of total diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions and about 30 percent of total nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from mobile sources nationwide.

"We're now going to take sulfur out of diesel and add catalytic converters to diesel engines," said Leavitt. The EPA regulation, first proposed a year ago, requires refiners to lower the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel for such engines to 500 ppm by 2007 and to 15 ppm in 2010, reducing the amount of pollution coming out of the exhaust pipes. "The result will be that that black puff of diesel smoke that we've become accustomed to seeing on big trucks and on construction equipment and on buses will be a thing of the past," assured Leavitt in the article.

Lowering sulfur in diesel fuel directly reduces particulate matter emissions and enables manufacturers to install emission-control devices. Engine manufacturers will produce new engines with advanced emission-control technologies, creating cleaner-burning engines. The fuel will no longer contain most of the sulfur that damages catalytic converters and other emissions-control devices.

According to the EPA, NOx emissions will be reduced 25 percent by 738,000 tons annually, and PM emissions will be reduced 47 percent by 129,000 tons annually. "These reductions in NOx and PM emissions from nonroad diesel engines will provide enormous public health benefits," states the EPA. "EPA estimates that by 2030, controlling these emissions will annually prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 8,900 hospitalizations and 1 million work days lost."

The EPA states, "By combining the tough exhaust standards with cleaner fuel requirements, the rule will cut emission levels from nonroad diesel equipment by over 90 percent. The new rule will also remove 99 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel used in nonroad equipment, resulting in dramatic reductions in particulate pollution from nonroad diesel engines. The overall benefits ($80 billion annually) of this rule outweigh the costs by 40:1."

EPA stated, "The new standards, to be phased in over the next several years, will result in the reduction of pollution equivalent to having some two million fewer trucks on the road." Standards for new engines will be phased in starting with the smallest engines in 2008 until all but the very largest diesel engines meet both NOx and PM standards in 2014. Some of the largest engines will have an additional year to meet the emissions standards.

For more information on the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule, visit www.epa.gov/cleandiesel.

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