(May 12, 2004) -- In a move directly relevant to LB area residents now subjected to diesel pollution from trucks, trains and ships related to LB and L.A. port operations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is implementing a Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule it says will cut emission levels from construction, agricultural and industrial diesel-powered equipment by more than 90% and remove 99% of sulfur in diesel fuel by 2010 and -- potentially of greater significance -- simultaneously taking the first step toward proposing new emission standards for diesel engines used in locomotives and marine vessels via an advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
Standards being considered would apply to new marine diesels and both new and existing diesel locomotives, the agency said.
The move is particularly significant because the Port related interests have variously claimed that local (SCAQMD) and state (CA Air Resources Bd) attempts to regulate much of the pollution from ships, trains and trucks are either unlawful or unavailing because they are within interstate commerce and thus a federal matter. The federal EPA's proposed rulemaking could effectively neutralize that argument.
Without new standards, the federal EPA projects that railroad and marine diesels will cause some 27 and 45 percent respectively of total nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) pollution coming from mobile sources.
The EPA's newly implemented rule received prompt support from the CA Air Resources Board. "We are very happy with EPA's decision to adopt stringent emissions standards for off road farming and construction equipment," said ARB Chairman Alan Lloyd in a written release, adding "This is an important step in California's journey to clean air. The inclusion of marine and locomotive engines under the low sulfur fuel requirement is also tremendously important."
The CA clean air agency noted that while noted that the federal EPA decision "cuts by 90 percent the PM and NOx emissions from diesel engines used for construction, agriculture, and other nonroad equipment," other federally-controlled sources that are not part of the implemented regulation are "locomotives, airplanes and marine engines," adding that "all federally controlled sources in California account for 20 percent of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in the our State Implementation Plan."
The state agency added, "Nitrogen oxides are major contributors to smog formation and acid deposition. PM10 (PM 10 microns in diameter and smaller) is among the most harmful of all air pollutants. When inhaled these particles evade the respiratory system's natural defenses and lodge deep in the lungs. Health problems begin as the body reacts to these foreign particles. PM10 can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis and other lung diseases, and reduce the body's ability to fight infections."
CA Earth Corps president Don May indicated he was studying the new and diesel proposed rules...and after a cursory review was seeking numerical specifics. A request seeking comment on the federal EPA moves from the Port of LB's Director of Planning, Robert Kanter PhD, is pending as we post.
The EPA says its Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule implemented May 11 "will result in the widespread introduction of emission control systems, a move comparable to the advent of catalytic converters for cars in the 1970s. An agency release says: