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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

EPA Proposes to Clean up the Diesel Engine's Act with New Emission Standards
If implemented as proposed, the program would bring heavy-duty diesel emissions on par with those of new vehicles powered by gasoline, but at what cost?

In a broad, sweeping proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a comprehensive national control program that would regulate diesel fuel and the vehicles that use it. These new emission standards would begin to take effect in 2007 and would apply to heavy-duty highway engines and vehicles. The proposals would have a dramatic effect on both diesel fuel and the vehicles that run on it. In terms of how these new standards would effect diesel-powered vehicles, the proposed standards would result in the widespread introduction of exhaust emission control devices comparable in function to catalytic converters on gasoline-powered vehicles. Because these exhaust emission control devices are damaged by sulfur, the EPA is also proposing to reduce the level of sulfur in highway diesel fuel significantly by the middle of 2006.

The EPA believes these proposals necessary to counter the increasing use of diesel-fueled vehicles in operation. According to the EPA, diesel engine sales have grown over the past decade to the point that now about a million new diesel engines are in operation in the U.S. every year. By 2007 the EPA estimates that heavy-duty vehicles using diesel such at trucks and buses will account for as much as 30 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions from transportation sources and 14 percent of particulate matter emissions. The EPA argues that the standards put forth in this proposal would help to dramatically curb the increase in the emission of both nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. More specifically, this proposal would call for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides emission levels that are 90% and 95% below current standard levels, respectively. In order for diesel vehicles to meet these stringent emission standards, the diesel fuel they use would have to be cleaner, as well. Thus, the EPA's proposal also calls for a 97% reduction in the sulfur content of diesel fuel. If this program is implemented as proposed by the EPA, diesel-powered vehicles would achieve gasoline-like exhaust emission levels.

The EPA argues that when fully implemented the clean air impact of this program would be dramatic. They describe the impact in detail in the Federal Register notice proposing the new rules: "By 2030, this program would reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and particulate matter by a projected 2.8 million, 305,000 and 110,000 tons, respectively. We project that these reductions and the resulting significant environmental benefits of this program would come at an average cost increase of about $1,700 to $2,800 per new vehicle in the near term and about $1,000 to $1,600 per new vehicle in the long term, depending on the vehicle size. In comparison, new vehicle prices today can range up to $250,000 for larger heavy-duty vehicles".

The EPA estimates that the cost of reducing the sulfur content of diesel fuel would result in an estimated increase of approximately four cents per gallon. However, this estimate needs to be subjected to a critical review since industry officials argue that the EPA grossly underestimated the cost of providing segmented fuel supplies.

Click here to read the full notice in the Federal Register including contact information:

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  • CRE invites all interested parties to submit comments on these issues to CRE's Interactive Public Docket.

    Please click below to submit comments regarding the EPA's Diesel Engine's Act New Emission Standards.

    EPA's Diesel Engine's Act New Emission Standards: Interactive Public Docket

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