Today, under a court-ordered consent decree with Environmental Defense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose the first-ever national emission standards to limit diesel exhaust from stationary engines. The affected engines are used in electrical generators, compressors, pumps and other stationary equipment. EPA’s proposal is expected to harmonize emission limits for stationary diesel engines with those the agency issued in May 2004 for mobile diesel construction and agricultural equipment (the “nonroad” diesel rule).
“Reducing the pollution from diesel exhaust is one of the single most important steps that can be taken to protect human health from harmful air pollution,” said Environmental Defense senior scientist Dr. Jana Milford.
“EPA’s new clean air standards will protect public health and the environment by applying modern pollution control standards to new diesel electrical generators, compressors and pumps,” said Environmental Defense director of special projects Mark MacLeod.
EPA data indicates that diesel exhaust contributes more than 70% of the cancer risk from air pollution in the U.S. Diesel exhaust is also a major source of harmful participate pollution and ozone-forming nitrogen oxides. Particulate pollution is linked to asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, strokes, heart attacks and premature death. High ozone levels are also linked to respiratory problems and premature death. Children, the elderly, and the ill are especially susceptible to harm from breathing diesel exhaust and its reaction products.
Some 600,000 existing stationary diesel engines are estimated to be in use nationwide, with electrical generators accounting for more than half of the total. The population of stationary engines is expected to continue growing, with expanding oil and gas operations and interest in off-the-grid electricity generation sources. EPA’s regulations will affect about 100,000 new stationary diesel engines manufactured each year. The new standards close a critical gap, because existing stationary diesel engines discharge pollution at levels 10 to 20 times higher than national emission standards would allow for their mobile source counterparts.
EPA’s stationary engine regulations rely on control technology that is already being required and has proven cost effective for similar engines in mobile equipment. EPA’s action also builds on the efforts of several states, including Texas and California, which previously adopted emissions standards for stationary engines. Today’s action by EPA was taken in response to a December 8, 2003 lawsuit filed by Environmental Defense. The lawsuit was settled by a consent decree that the court approved on September 27, 2004, requiring EPA to issue proposed national emission standards on June 29, 2005 and to finalize the standards on June 28, 2006.
While EPA’s action focuses on new engines, the United States Senate is also working to address existing diesel engines. Last week the Senate voted 92 to 1 to provide a $1 billion fund to support grants and loans to lower pollution from existing diesel engines. The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 was introduced by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) and would provide funding for a wide variety of diesel clean up projects. For more on the bill visit http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentid=4490