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EPA’s Tough Diesel Engine Standards Will Achieve Dramatic Clean Air Benefits Boston, Massachusetts Praised for Diesel-emission Reduction Efforts

Release Date: 05/12/04
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2004, Release # 04-05-10

BOSTON, MA – Surrounded by locomotives being retrofitted with cutting-edge pollution control technology, state and federal environmental leaders met today to celebrate EPA’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 a diesel engine 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 Massachusetts 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.”

Speaking at Boston’s South Station, Varney highlighted the benefits of the nonroad diesel program that will affect nonroad engines as early as 2008. Varney also praised the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for steps it has taken to reduce pollution from diesel trains many years before regulations would mandate such an action. Earlier in the day, senior EPA staff visited the Burke Oil facility in Chelsea, a local leader in the effort to provide clean diesel fuel to consumers.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has been active in addressing diesel pollution on several fronts. To address new vehicles, DEP opted into a multi-state effort requiring medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles to meet California standards for model year 2005 and beyond. On the fuels front, there are a number of fleets operating on ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, including the entire MBTA diesel bus fleet. DEP is encouraging and requiring off-road construction equipment to be retrofitted with pollution control devices on projects such as the Central Artery. Finally, DEP is providing anti-idling information to school bus drivers to help reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.

“I commend the EPA for taking this decisive action to control the harmful emissions from off-road diesel sources,” DEP Commissioner Robert W. Golledge Jr. said. “These reductions in fine particulates and NOx, combined with the reductions gained from our state programs, will help us attain the air quality standards needed to continue to protect the public health.”

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. Asthma rates in New England are significantly higher than the rest of the country. All six New England states have childhood asthma rates above 10 percent.

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.

With yesterday’s action, 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 Massachusetts, because of the many construction projects across the state, especially the Big Dig, EPA estimates there are over 140,000 pieces of diesel equipment.

Last week, EPA announced 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 retrofit projects in New England is available at: