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EPA’s Tough Diesel Engine Standards Celebrated at New Haven Construction Site; State of Connecticut Also Praised for Diesel-emission Reduction Efforts

Release Date: 05/12/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008) Matthew Fritz, CT DEP (860-424-4117)

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2004 Release # 04-05-12

NEW HAVEN, CT – Flanked by bulldozers and other off-road construction equipment, state and federal environmental leaders met today to celebrate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent approval of a new Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule that will cut emission levels from construction, agricultural and industrial diesel-powered equipment by more than 90 percent. The new rule, signed yesterday by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, will also remove 99 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel by 2010, resulting in a dramatic reduction in soot from all diesel engines.

In New England alone, the rule will reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution by about 40,000 tons a year – or about what is currently emitted by all of New England’s power plants.
“New Englanders can now look forward to the day when the black puff of smoke from diesel engines is a thing of the past,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “This rule is a major step in improving air quality in Connecticut and the rest of New England, and it will be especially beneficial for the hundreds of thousands of adults and children in the region who suffer from asthma.”

Asthma rates in New England are significantly higher than the rest of the country. All six of the New England states, including Connecticut, have childhood asthma rates above 10 percent.
Speaking at a field office for the Q Bridge construction project, Varney highlighted the benefits of the nonroad diesel program that will affect nonroad engines as early as 2008 and praised the State of Connecticut for steps it has taken to reduce pollution from construction equipment currently in use. Among the state’s steps is a requirement that any contractor involved in the I-95 Quinnipiac Bridge reconstruction must run their diesel-powered equipment with either low-polluting fuel or retrofit the equipment with diesel exhaust controls.

Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has created a Connecticut Clean School Bus Program that combines the use of clean fuel and advanced pollution control technology to reduce particulate matter (PM) and other pollution emissions from school buses across the state. Among the newest additions to the state’s program is the New Haven School District which has about 200 school buses.

“As a national leader in air emissions regulation, as well as a variety of innovative programs to expand its effectiveness, DEP is proud to stand with our federal colleagues for this important announcement,” said CT DEP Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque, Jr. “Diesel engines, both off-road and on-road, have long represented the most significant source of unregulated emissions in Connecticut. Also, because the transportation sector is the major source of locally generated air pollution in Connecticut, the renewed commitment by EPA to provide regulatory support and program funding is most welcome. Our clean school bus program with its municipal and corporate partners has been a national model. We anticipate our construction equipment retrofit program will be as well.”

“Recent studies have shown that diesel exhaust from school buses poses a significant threat to children's health, increasing their susceptibility to a variety of illnesses,” said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. “Purchasing ULSD is the first step in a comprehensive school bus retrofit program, which will eventually include fitting school buses with pollution controls. The combination of these two measures will significantly reduce air pollution from school buses in New Haven.”

When the full inventory of older nonroad engines has been replaced, EPA’s nonroad diesel program will annually prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths (including 500 in New England), one million lost work days, 15,000 heart attacks and 6,000 children’s asthma-related emergency room visits. The anticipated costs vary with the size and complexity of the equipment, but are in the range of one to three percent of the total purchase price for most equipment categories. While the estimated added cost for low-sulfur fuel is about seven cents a gallon, the net cost is projected to average about four cents a gallon because the use of ultra-low sulfur fuel could significantly reduce engine maintenance expenses. The overall benefits of the nonroad diesel program are estimated to be significantly outweigh the cost by a ratio of 40 to 1.

The Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule is the latest round in EPA’s decade-long effort to make diesel engines and fuels cleaner. This new rule complements the Clean Diesel Truck and Bus Rule (announced in December 2000), which will put the cleanest running heavy-duty trucks and buses in history on America’s roads, building a fleet that will be 95 percent cleaner than today’s trucks and buses. On-highway compliance requirements take effect with the 2007 model year.

Yesterday, EPA also took the first step toward proposing new emission standards for diesel engines used in locomotives and marine vessels by issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. Standards being considered would apply to new marine diesels and both new and existing diesel locomotives.

The agency’s Clean Diesel Program accentuates the benefit of these historic rulemakings through a suite of voluntary programs that focus on vehicles and equipment in use today. These include the Clean School Bus USA Program, the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program and SmartWay Transport Partnership.

A typical piece of construction equipment such as a 175 horsepower bulldozer emits as much NOx and particulate matter as 25 new cars today. In New England, nonroad diesel engines account for 40 percent of particulate emissions and 20 percent of NOx emissions from mobile sources. In some urban areas, the percentage can be even greater. There are approximately 250,000 pieces of diesel equipment operating in New England.

In Connecticut, EPA estimates there are over 50,000 pieces of diesel equipment. These nonroad engines account for more than half of the PM emissions and about a third of NOx emissions from mobile sources.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of EPA's notice last week of the availability of $1.5 million in grant funds under the national Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program. EPA is now accepting grant applications for projects that benefit sensitive populations – such as children, the elderly, and the chronically ill – who are more susceptible to the effects of diesel exhaust. Projects must demonstrate the innovative use of pollution control equipment that EPA has verified to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles, including nonroad engines. Applications are due July 2, 2004. For more information about the grant competition, visit:

The nonroad rule and other related documents is available at More information about the Connecticut Clean Air Construction initiative is available at: More information about retrofit projects in New England is available at: