State Journal Register
May 11, 2004
EPA finalizes diesel rules
Regulators want to make black smoke disappear by 2014
By DORI MEINERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday finalized regulations that require Caterpillar Inc. and other manufacturers of diesel-powered bulldozers and tractors to reduce polluting air emissions by 90 percent by 2014.
"We are going to make that burst of black smoke that erupts from diesels a thing of the past," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt at a news conference where he signed the regulations.
When implemented, the new rules are expected to prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 6,000 children's asthma-related emergency room visits a year, EPA officials said. About 159 million people live in areas where the air is unhealthy, according to the EPA.
"It is a change that will result in the people of this nation living longer and living better," Leavitt said.
The regulations, proposed a year ago, follow months of negotiations among the EPA, the states, diesel engine manufacturers, refiners and environmentalists.
They were praised by environmentalists and state air pollution control officials, as well as engine manufacturers and refiners.
"It's a challenge, but we are on a path to deliver and are feeling very confident that we can meet the regulations," said Caterpillar Group President Douglas Oberhelman, who attended the news conference at EPA headquarters.
Caterpillar will begin testing its new-technology engines for non-road vehicles this year and will have them on the market next year, Oberhelman said.
The new regulations will be phased in starting with the smallest engines in 2008 through 2014. The largest engines will have an additional year to meet the emissions standards.
The regulations also require refiners to lower the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel for such engines from the current 3,000 parts per million to 500 ppm by 2007 and to 15 ppm by 2010.
The EPA also took the first step toward proposing more stringent emission standards for new marine diesel engines and in new and existing diesel locomotives that could be implemented as early as 2011.
The diesel regulations for non-road vehicles build on the tighter standards for diesel trucks and buses announced by the Clinton administration in December 2000. Those on-highway vehicles must comply with the new standards by 2007.
Caterpillar already has sold tens of thousands of the new-technology truck engines, Oberhelman said.
The new regulations are estimated to cost up to 3 percent of the total purchase price of the equipment, but the overall benefits are expected to outweigh the costs 40-to-1, according to EPA studies.
The collaborative process used to develop the new diesel regulations was commended by all sides, most notably by environmentalists who have sharply criticized the Bush administration and the EPA on other air-quality issues.
"These new rules on diesel engines are a breath of fresh air," said Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp. "By working together effectively with both industry and the environmentalists, the EPA has developed these strong pollution rules that will help protect the millions of Americans suffering from asthma and all Americans that are hard hit by the pollution from diesel exhaust."
Bill Becker, executive director of two associations that represent state and local air pollution agencies, said the new regulations will deliver "huge benefits" and "play a key role in helping states and localities ... meet health-based air-quality standards."
Ed Murphy of the American Petroleum Institute said the new regulations "will not be costless. Frankly, it tests our ability to provide this fuel." But he said they're worthwhile because of the environmental and health benefits.
Jed Mendel, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Engine Manufacturers Association, said its members are committed to developing the new technologies needed to comply with the new regulations.