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February 3, 2006

New push for stricter diesel emission limits

The U.S. EPA is under renewed pressure to set tougher emissions limits on marine and railroad diesels.

Two national associations of state and local clean air agencies have released a report estimating that emissions from trains and boats are responsible for 4,400 premature deaths a year, as well as many other serious health dangers.

The report--Danger in Motion: It's Time to Clean Up Trains and Boats-- has been produced by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO).

STAPPA and ALAPCO are the two national associations of clean air agencies in 54 states and territories and more than 165 metropolitan areas.

Their report identifies diesel-fueled locomotive and marine engines as "among the largest and most dangerous under-regulated sources of pollution in the United States."

The marine engines identified by the report are those with a capacity of less than 30 liters a cylinder. Larger (category 3) marine diesels used in oceangoing ships are regulated separately.

STAPPA and ALAPCO say that, if left unchecked, by 2030 these engines could produce nearly half the diesel particulate matter from all mobile sources and more than a quarter of the nitrogen oxide emissions.

The associations have sent Danger in Motion to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, urging him to move forward with adopting emissions standards for new locomotive and marine diesel engines.

In a letter to Johnson, the STAPPA and ALAPCO Presidents-- Eddie Terrill, Director of the Oklahoma Air Quality Division, and John Paul, Supervisor of the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency in Dayton, Ohio--wrote:

"On June 29, 2004, EPA stated in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the control of emissions from new locomotive and marine diesel engines (69 Federal Register 39275) that it expected to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for this rule by mid-2005 and a Final Rule by mid-2006. Given the tremendous adverse human health impacts associated with exposure to locomotive and marine diesel emissions, we are disappointed that the agency has not acted on this timetable. We urge you to move forward now, on an expedited schedule, to propose and finalize standards for these engines that will reduce emissions by at least 90 percent, with full implementation taking effect in 2011--thus putting emission reduction requirements for locomotive and marine diesel engines on par with requirements for other onroad and nonroad diesel engines and in a similar timeframe. We stand ready to work with you on this important initiative."

In Danger in Motion, STAPPA and ALAPCO detail the results of an analysis they conducted using EPA's own methodology for calculating health impacts to quantify the adverse health effects associated with locomotive and marine diesel emissions. The results are striking. In addition to 4,400 premature deaths, exposure to these emissions prompts, among other things, nearly 5,700 heart attacks, 2,200 emergency room visits by children with asthma and over 370,000 lost work days annually.

In contrast to EPA's regulations for diesel-fueled heavy trucks and nonroad construction and farming equipment--which compel emission reductions of at least 90 percent -- current regulations for locomotive and marine diesel engines are, say STAPPA and ALAPCO, "woefully inadequate, reducing emissions by no more than 25 to 50 percent."

STAPPA and ALAPCO want EPA to move forward now, on an expedited schedule, to propose and finalize standards to reduce emissions from locomotive and marine diesel engines by at least 90 percent, with full implementation in effect by 2011.