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EPA’s Tough Diesel Engine Standards Celebrated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Release Date: 05/13/04
Contact Information: Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: May 13, 2004 Release #04-15-14

PROVIDENCE, RI – Visiting Rhode Island’s largest pediatric asthma center, state and federal environmental and health 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 and other industrial diesel-powered equipment by more than 90 percent. The new rule 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 (NOx) 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 Ira Leighton, deputy regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office, speaking today at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “This rule is a major step in improving air quality in Rhode Island 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 which can be triggered by diesel soot pollution.”

“Clean air is good for health. Particles, even tiny ones, like sulfur dioxides and NOx are not good to breathe,” added Dr. Patricia Nolan, director at the R.I. Department of Health. “The health benefits of the new diesel rule will include things like decreased asthma attacks, increased exercise tolerance, fewer ozone days and less irritation to our noses and our eyes.”

Asthma rates in New England are significantly higher than the rest of the country. All six of the New England states, including Rhode Island, have childhood asthma rates above 10 percent. Rhode Island’s childhood asthma rate is 10.7 percent.

Speaking at the hospital this morning, Leighton highlighted the benefits of the nonroad diesel program that will affect nonroad engines as early as 2008 and praised the State of Rhode Island for steps it has taken to reduce the health impacts from diesel and other air pollutants. Leighton was especially complimentary of the hospital’s Asthma & Allergy Center, which provides a broad range of asthma services, including Rhode Island’s largest family education program.

The center provides four types of asthma-related medical services – clinical care, research, professional education and a family education program that serves 650 Rhode Island families a year. The center’s Community Asthma Program recently received a $30,000 EPA grant to expand its family education program to Pawtucket. The project is being done in coordination with the Pawtucket School District.

“Hasbro Children’s Hospital is grateful to the EPA for developing policies and initiatives that will have a positive effect on asthma and its triggers,” said Dr. Robert Klein, MD, director of the hospital’s Asthma and Allergy Center. “At the Asthma and Allergy Center, we see many children and their families who are living with asthma. We are hopeful that the EPA’s efforts, combined with our education, outreach and treatment, will improve the quality of life for these families.”

The nonroad diesel rule was signed this week by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. 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.

This week, 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 Rhode Island, EPA estimates there are nearly 12,000 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 diesel sources.

This week’s rule 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: http://www.epa.gov/air/grants_funding.html#trans.

The nonroad rule and other related documents is available at http://www.epa.gov/nonroad. More information about retrofit projects in New England is available at: http://www.epa.gov/ne/eco/diesel.