New Analysis Shows Death, Disease Toll from Overdue EPA Emissions Standards for Diesel Trains and Ships

January 15, 2008




Janea Scott, 213-386-5501 ext 102,

Sean Crowley, 202-572-3331,

Washington, DC – January 15, 2008) A new technical analysis shows that even a one year delay by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in implementing overdue emission standards for diesel trains and ships will allow serious health effects to go unaddressed over the course of EPA’s program. The adverse health consequences include: 1400 premature deaths, 3000 heart attacks, and 24,000 asthma attacks. The technical analysis by the national nonprofit group Environmental Defense is based on EPA’s own data and methodologies, and is summarized in a one page fact sheet.

In 2004, EPA announced plans to put in place new standards for the nation’s fleet of diesel locomotives and ships by mid-2006, but missed the deadline. In March 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson issued draft federal standards that would reduce particulate pollution and smog-forming nitrogen oxides from each engine by 80 percent or greater when fully phased in. Collectively, this pollution reduction is equivalent to taking three-quarters of a million diesel trucks off the road each year. At the time the draft standards were released, Administrator Johnson said the agency would “finalize [the proposed rule] by the end of the year [i.e., 2007],” but EPA has now missed this deadline.

“EPA’s delay in adopting clean air standards for diesel trains and ships has serious human health consequences in the real world and will allow thousands of deaths, heart attacks and asthma attacks to go unaddressed,” said Environmental Defense staff attorney Janea Scott. “We urge EPA to fulfill its commitments to the American people by immediately adopting protective clean air standards for high-polluting diesel trains and ships.”

Most of the ships and trains in the U.S. today are powered by diesel engines. Diesel trains and ships, such as ferries and tugboats, are major sources of air pollution. Diesel exhaust contains toxic chemicals that together with diesel particulate matter pose a cancer risk greater than that of any other air pollutant. Each year, diesel locomotives and commercial ships together emit nearly two million tons of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen. Both are major sources of lethal particulate pollution.