State lawmakers ask EPA not to delay or weaken clean diesel rule

Environmental groups Thursday praised a state lawmaker group for calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency not to weaken or delay standards that would dramatically lower the sulfur standard in diesel fuel. Refiners have filed suit to block the EPA diesel sulfur rule, saying it could cost too much money and lead to fuel shortages.

Aug 30th, 2001

By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 30 -- Environmental groups Thursday praised a state lawmaker group for calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency not to weaken or delay standards that would dramatically lower the sulfur standard in diesel fuel.

The National Conference of State Legislators approved a resolution supporting the standards, which are endorsed by most automakers and environmental groups but not refiners.

"NCSL strongly supports EPA's engine and fuel standards and opposes efforts to either delay or weaken the fuel sulfur standard or delay or weaken achievement of the engine emission standards," said a resolution approved by NCSL Aug. 15 at its annual meeting in San Antonio. The resolution was introduced by Delegate James Hubbard (D-Md.).

The American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association have filed suit to block the EPA diesel sulfur rule, saying it could cost the oil industry too much money and lead to fuel shortages. A recent analysis by the Energy Information Administration said it could not predict whether refiners and importers will be able to supply enough low sulfur diesel fuel to meet market demand in 5 years (OGJ Online, May 8, 2001).

Environmental groups say they fear EPA will ignore the pollution benefits of the rule to placate industry.

"EPA should heed the state lawmakers rather than the oil companies," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust.

Last June EPA signaled it would pursue an independent study to take a second look at the Clinton administration era rule. The rule now on the books would force refiners to meet a 15 ppm standard by 2006 on 80% of diesel supply. The remaining 20% would be phased in by 2010 (OGJ Online, June 6, 2001).

When the rule was promulgated by the Clinton administration, policymakers maintained refiners had the ability and the time to meet the new standard without compromising supply.

EPA has estimated the standards would prevent 8,300 premature deaths/year and produce $70 billion/year in benefits by reducing smog, soot, and toxic air contaminants.

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