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EPA Funds Ultra-low Sulfur Diesel Fuel for Baltimore Buses - Reducing Diesel Emissions Will Result in Significant Health Improvements

Release Date: 1/9/2004
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented a $100,000 voluntary diesel retrofit grant to the Maryland Department of the Environment to purchase ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for 165 transit buses in Baltimore in 2004.

EPA’s $558,000 grant program, which funded six projects nationwide, was designed to jump-start volunteer efforts to curb diesel emissions through a variety of methods, such as using ultra-low sulfur fuel and installing pollution control devices on buses, trucks, and nonroad equipment.

Ultra low sulfur fuel contains much less sulfur than traditional diesel fuel. The reduced sulfur emissions result in a decrease in the amount of soot particulate matters entering the atmosphere.

“We congratulate the Maryland Department of the Environment for taking a major step in protecting the health of Maryland residents. The use of ultra-low sulfur fuel will go a long way in reducing the amount of particle pollution in Baltimore, one of the most heavily-traveled urban corridors in the mid-Atlantic region,” said EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh.

“This project will have an immediate and noticeable impact on East Baltimore,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment. “The air will be cleaner along the routes served by these buses. This is effective environmental justice at the grassroots level.”

The $100,000 grant from EPA, together with a $39,614 contribution from MDE, will cover the cost differential between regular diesel fuel and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for 165 diesel transit buses operated from the Eastern Maintenance Facility on South Oldham Street, which serves residents of Baltimore’s Highlandtown community. Currently, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel costs between 8 and 25 cents more per gallon, depending on the geographic location.

Buses in the Eastern facility were chosen to use the ultra-low diesel sulfur fuel because the area is the hub for major transportation arteries that include I-95, I-895, and Amtrak, CSX, and Conrail railways. Diesel engine vehicles in these busy corridors produce large amounts of particle pollution.

EPA is working aggressively to reduce pollution from new diesel engines by requiring them to meet progressively tougher emission standards. New regulations slated to take effect in 2007 will result in vehicles that are up to 95 percent cleaner than those on the road today.

However, diesel vehicles are durable and can last for 25 to 30 years and EPA’s emission standards only apply to new vehicles. To address vehicles currently on the road, EPA launched the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program in 2000. Through the use of innovative technology by cities, school districts and private companies, it is now possible for older vehicles to drastically decrease emissions, and reduce our exposure to diesel exhaust.