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EPA to Clean Up Diesel Emissions and Protect Public Health; Whitman Details Stringent New Standards to Reduce Pollution from Nonroad Diesel Engines During Visit to New Jersey

Release Date: 04/17/2003
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(#03035) EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today, during a visit to Newark, New Jersey, detailed the Bush Administration's efforts to significantly reduce pollution from nonroad diesel engines. Whitman outlined a new proposal, announced earlier this week, which will dramatically reduce emissions from nonroad diesel engines used in construction, agricultural and industrial equipment. The comprehensive national program, which has been widely praised by environmentalists, industry and state officials, requires stringent nonroad engine controls and reductions of sulfur in diesel fuel a program that will achieve enormous air quality improvements throughout the country.

"The action we are taking represents a strong commitment from the Bush Administration to take the next step to achieve cleaner air and protect the health of all Americans, especially the health of children and the elderly who are more susceptible to diesel pollution," said Administrator Christie Whitman. "Coupled with the 2007 diesel rule for highway trucks and our school bus retrofit program, these actions will be the most far-reaching diesel programs in the world."

Whitman discussed the agency's work on diesel issues at an ultra low sulfur fueling station operated by Sprague, a resource for industrial, commercial, space heating and transportation fuels. The fueling station, located in Newark, supplies fuel used in public transit, school buses and at construction sites throughout the northeast.

"By working together in partnership with both the fuel suppliers, such as Sprague, and engine manufacturers, we are confident that the complete transition to cleaner non-road diesel engines will be efficient and successful," said Whitman who was joined by Steven Levy, Director of Clean Fuels at Sprague Energy and EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny.

The proposal announced earlier this week by the Bush Administration would take effect for new engines starting as early as 2008 and be fully phased in by 2014. EPA is proposing to reduce emissions of soot, known as particulate matter (PM), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from today's engines by more than 90 percent. When fully phased in, annual reductions will be 825,000 tons of NOx and 125,000 tons of PM. For the first time ever, advanced emission control systems will be incorporated into nonroad equipment. The sulfur content of diesel fuel will be dramatically phased down from its current uncontrolled level of 3400 parts per million to 500 parts per million (ppm) beginning in 2007 and then to 15 ppm in 2010 a 99 percent reduction.

EPA has estimated that by 2030 the nonroad program will, among other benefits, annually prevent over 9,600 premature deaths, 8,300 hospitalizations, 16,000 heart attacks, 5,700 children's asthma-related emergency room visits, 260,000 respiratory problems in children and nearly a million work days lost due to illness. (Under an alternative estimate, the nonroad program would deliver annual benefits that include preventing 5,600 premature deaths.)

Nearly 111 million people live in areas that do not meet air quality standards for ground level ozone (smog), and more than 70 million people live an areas that do not meet air quality standards for PM. Nonroad diesel engines contribute significantly to these problems. A typical piece of construction equipment such as a 175 horsepower bulldozer emits as much NOx and PM as 26 new cars today. EPA estimates that nonroad diesel engines currently account for about 44 percent of diesel PM emissions and about 12 percent of NOx emissions from mobile sources nationwide and in some urban areas the percentage is greater. The nonroad program would significantly help areas across the country reach their clean air goals and improve public health nationwide.

This new non-road diesel announcement is part of a series of rules that have put stringent new emissions requirements on all mobile sources. Just last week Whitman announced Clean School Bus USA, a program that will encourage policies and practices to eliminate unnecessary school bus idling, retrofit older buses with cleaner emission control systems and replace the oldest buses in the fleet with newer ones. The agency also finalized a rule to reduce emissions from large trucks and buses and reduce the sulfur levels in the diesel fuel they use.

"The 2007 diesel rule for highway trucks and buses, and this week's announcement of a comprehensive nonroad diesel program illustrate the Administration's commitment to making our air cleaner for this generation and generations to come," Whitman concluded.

"This proposal will help people all across the country," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "But it has particular benefits for urbanized states like New Jersey and New York, where we struggle to control air pollution and where heavy equipment plays a vital role in redeveloping our cities."

The public may comment by sending an email to Additional ways to send comments are found in the Federal Register notice. Written comments may be submitted until August 20. Public hearings will be held in New York on June 10, Chicago on June 12, and Los Angeles June 17, 2003. Detailed information about the hearings will be published in the Federal Register. This proposal, related documents and information about the public hearings are available at