EPA targets nonroad diesel engines

Rules aim to cut pollution from farm tractors, construction equipment

May 11, 2004|By Elizabeth Shogren | Elizabeth Shogren,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration yesterday announced a regulation that within a decade would cut 90 percent of the harmful pollution from construction equipment, farm equipment and other off-road diesel engines and 99 percent of the sulfur from the fuel they use.

"It's a big moment in terms of clean air history," Environmental Protection Agency administrator Mike Leavitt said. "That black puff of diesel smoke will be a thing of the past."

The regulation is expected to prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 6,000 asthma-related emergency room visits for children every year, according to the EPA.

Even many of the administration's usual critics praised the regulation, which is expected to be signed today, as the best thing President Bush has done for the environment.

"This rule provides greater environmental benefits than any other decision this administration has made," said S. William Becker, executive director of the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials.

After being attacked for adopting policies described by environmental groups as too friendly to industries, the administration experienced a rare day of praise from those same organizations.

"By working together effectively with both industry and environmentalists, 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," said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, a national environmental organization.

Almost as striking as the support from environmentalists were the comments from the industries that would be subject to the aggressive new regulation.

"The diesel industry is committed to being part of the clean air solution," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, which represents diesel refiners and engine manufacturers.

This regulation is similar to one adopted by the Clinton administration and approved by the Bush administration to drastically cut emissions from diesel trucks and buses.

Diesel exhaust is particularly harmful because it is linked to lung cancer and other ailments, mostly affecting the respiratory system.

The regulation will require the removal of 99 percent of the sulfur in the diesel fuel for off-road engines, and the addition to those engines of controls to remove other pollutants, such as smog-forming nitrogen oxide. About 650,000 of these engines are sold every year in backhoes, tractors, heavy forklifts, airport service vehicles and generators.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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