New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, President Bush''s nominee to head EPA, told senators on Wednesday that she would review diesel fuel rules released last month by the Clinton Administration to see if changes are needed.
Whitman told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at her confirmation hearing that the incoming administration has an "obligation to review all pending rules ... and we will do that in this case."
As part of a flurry of regulations being churned out in the last days of the Clinton Administration, EPA announced the rules in late December that are expected to cut air pollution by more than 90 percent over the next decade.
The new rules, which take effect in 2006, are aimed at curbing sooty particles spewed from diesel-powered trucks in an effort to clean up the air for those with respiratory ailments and asthma.
Whitman told Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that she shared his concerns about air quality.
"I think we need to look at all the ways we need to clean our environment and ... motorized transport has been a large part of the problem," said Whitman.
As head of EPA, Whitman said she would try to craft rules that meet environmental goals at the least cost to the economy. "We need to ensure balance and that''s what I am going to do," she said.
The stricter diesel rules have been vigorously opposed by U.S. oil refiners, who said they will ask Bush and Congress to amend the rules and delay the effective date until 2008.
Under the new restrictions, American refiners will have to reduce sulfur in diesel fuel to 15 parts per million by 2006, compared to a current level of 500 parts per million.
The oil industry has warned that the large sulfur reductions would result in regional shortages of diesel fuel and higher diesel prices.
by Virginia Sutcliffe