Friday, February 03, 2006

Clean Air Watch joins call for EPA to clean up diesel train, boat emissions

Coalition urges EPA action on ship, train diesel emissions
Alex Kaplun, Greenwire reporter

A coalition of environmental groups urged U.S. EPA yesterday to quickly adopt regulations to reduce air emissions from ships and trains -- diesel engine types that have not been subject to new rules in recent years.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, the groups asked EPA to fulfill its commitment to moving quickly on new regulations. Agency officials previously said that they would propose the new rules by the middle of 2005 and put in place the final regulations sometime this year. But the agency has yet to release a proposal.

"Marine diesel vessels and locomotives are crucial components of the national transit system and are especially important for freight transport," the letter says. "But they are also a significant -- and growing -- source of air pollution."

The letter was signed by more than 50 environmental groups, including Clean Air Watch, Environmental Defense and Natural Resource Defense Council.

A study released by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators says diesel emissions from ships and trains are responsible for about 4,400 premature deaths each and that new regulations would result in "health-related benefits" totaling $27 billion per year. The group used the EPA's own system of analysis for diesel emissions to reach those conclusions.

EPA regulations for ships and trains will likely mirror those that agency has released in the last few years for on-road and off-road diesel engines. Those rules have been praised by many groups as perhaps the biggest environmental accomplishment of the Bush administration. Those regulations will cut emissions from diesel engines in most cases by more than 90 percent, significantly reducing the levels nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter.

But EPA says it has not yet proposed the new regulations because it must still work through some technical problems that are unique to these trains and ships. An EPA spokesman said in a statement yesterday that delay is due to the agency trying to ensure that its regulation can be quickly implemented once it becomes policy.

"EPA agrees with STAPPA about the urgency of addressing PM from locomotives and marine diesels. That's why the agency will propose regulations this year on those sources," the statement says. "The work now under way will result in faster development and implementation of a successful regulation that will save more lives."

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