U.S. Government Sees 'Smooth Transition' to Cleaner Diesel
WASHINGTON U.S. oil refiners and fuel importers should not have problems meeting new federal clean air rules that kicked in on Thursday requiring a much lower sulfur content in diesel fuel, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
Sulfur in diesel fuel will have to be cut by 97 percent, from an average 500 parts per million to just 15. That should reduce air pollution which the EPA estimates could help prevent up to 8,300 premature deaths a year from asthma and other breathing problems.
"The agency expects a smooth transition and will closely monitor the industry as it transitions to (ultra low sulfur diesel), making this historic milestone a reality that will benefit Americans' health and the environment," the EPA said.
The new diesel fuel must be sold at service stations by mid-October as trucks and buses that use clean diesel technology become available.
By 2009, both gasoline and diesel-powered cars, pickups and SUVs will meet the same strong emissions standards.
"By addressing diesel fuel and engines as a single system, this action will produce the clean air equivalent of eliminating air pollution from 90 percent -- or about 13 million -- of today's trucks and buses," the EPA said.
Consumers will also save money at the pump from the better fuel efficiency with diesel-powered vehicles, which typically provide 20 to 40 percent more miles per gallon of fuel burned than comparable gasoline-run vehicles.