The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule for the first phase of its two-part strategy to significantly reduce harmful diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks and buses.
The first phase deals exclusively with cleaner truck engines.
Under this phase, diesel truck and bus engines will emit 40 percent less air pollution beginning in 2004.
The second phase of the program will require cleaner diesel fuels as well as even cleaner engines by 2007, and will reduce air pollution from trucks and buses by another 90 percent, said EPA.
The agency expects to issue the final rule for this second phase of the program by the end of this year.
"Today, we are completing the first phase of a strategy that will result in cleaner-running truck and bus engines," said Robert Perciasepe, EPA assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "The second phase of the strategy will be announced later this year and will include cleaner diesel fuel and even cleaner engines. By ensuring cleaner trucks and buses, we are taking another major step to provide significantly cleaner, healthier air for all Americans."
When both of these phases are fully in effect, heavy duty trucks and buses will be almost as clean as alternatively fueled vehicles such as compressed natural gas vehicles. Heavy-duty trucks that run on gasoline, as opposed to diesel fuel, must also meet tougher standards in both phases of the strategy.
Exhaust from heavy duty trucks and buses is comprised of soot and smog-forming pollution.
Together, soot and smog in the Untied States account for 15,000 premature deaths, 1 million respiratory problems, 400,000 asthma attacks, and thousands of cases of aggravated asthma, especially in children, according to EPA statistics.
Motor vehicles generate about 30 percent of all emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds -- the pollution that causes smog.
The final rule will be printed in the Federal Register shortly and is available online via EPA''s Web site at www.epa.gov/oms/hd-hwy.htm.
by Virginia Sutcliffe