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Planet Ark World Environment News U.S. Proposes Rules to Cut Train, Ship Emissions

Date: 05-Mar-07
Country: US
Author: Timothy Gardner

The regulations, which would include stricter manufacturing standards, use of emissions technology and cleaner fuels, would begin to roll out in 2008, with final rules hitting in 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency said. Emissions from the sources of smog component nitrogen oxide would also be cut.

"By tackling the greatest remaining source of diesel emissions, we are keeping our nation's clean air progress moving full steam ahead," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told reporters at a bustling commercial port in New Jersey.

Tiny soot particles from sources including diesel engines can cause lung cancer, asthma, and heart problems, according to peer-reviewed studies.

The move pleased several environmental organizations.

"This puts the nation on the right side to save hundreds of lives a year and deliver savings of billions of dollars in terms of health benefits," Fred Krupp, president of green group Environmental Defense, told reporters at the port.

"It's the rare instance in which the Bush administration is actually proposing something really good for the environment," said Frank O'Donnell, president of nonprofit Clean Air Watch in a statement.

The Natural Resource Defense Council applauded the EPA, but said the country's largest locomotive maker, General Electric Co., could try to soften the rules on nitrogen oxide emissions before they are finalized.

The manufacturing conglomerate sent a letter to EPA late last year saying it would support a more relaxed standard for that pollutant. GE did not immediately return calls.

Johnson said the program would cost industry about US$600 million in 2030 but result in health care savings of US$12 billion by that time.

The proposals to cut emissions from diesel-powered U.S. ships and trains come on top of federal laws, passed during the Clinton presidency and which took effect in 2006, requiring diesel-engine trucks and cars to use fuel with sharply lower sulfur content. New trucks are also required to add diesel particulate filters which combined with the cleaner fuels cut particulate emissions by 90 percent.

U.S. ships and trains, which would account for the bulk of diesel soot pollution by 2030 if the rules did not go into effect, will start using the ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel by 2012.

Raymond Werner, EPA's chief of air programs in New York, said issuing the proposed rules helps oil refiners prepare to boost production of the clean fuel over coming years.

The rules would call for old locomotives to start using new emissions technology between 2008 and 2010, and newly manufactured train and ship engines to apply the standards starting in 2009.

The rules for ships apply to U.S.-flagged or U.S.-registered vessels, but not long-haul commercial liners, the EPA said.

By 2014, marine diesel engines would be required to use new highly efficient catalytic converters, with locomotive diesel engines following in 2015, the EPA said.

The EPA said the proposals were formed with input from railroad CSX Corp., GE, Caterpillar Inc. and Environmental Defense. It hopes to finalize the rules by the end of the year.

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