July 30, 2007

California adopts landmark rule to reduce off-road equipment emissions

Sacramento, California – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has adopted a pioneering regulation aimed at reducing toxic and cancer-causing diesel emissions from the state’s estimated 180,000 “off-road” vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support and other industries.

“This regulation will prevent thousands of premature deaths and reduce health care costs for those suffering from respiratory disease such as asthma,” says Mary Nichols, ARB Chairman. “It is also the first of its kind in the nation, and, as has occurred with other California regulations, could serve as a model for other states to follow.”

Diesel particulate matter, or “soot”, was identified as a toxic air contaminant in 1998; in 2000, the ARB established California’s Diesel Risk Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce diesel emissions to 85 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Other sources of soot such as transit buses, trash trucks, cargo-handling equipment and ship auxiliary engines, as well as diesel fuel, have already been addressed through regulations.

Because many diesel engines lack emission controls and can remain in use for 30 years or longer, they will remain a major contributor to air pollution for years to come. The new regulation requires diesel soot filters and encourages the replacement of older engines with newer, emission-controlled models. The new rule also includes a provision allowing areas currently unable to achieve clean air standards set by the EPA for particulate matter to opt in to stricter regional requirements if incentive funds are made available.

Implementation requirements and deadlines will vary depending on fleet size, and will range from 2010 to 2015. Affected vehicles include bulldozers, loaders, backhoes, forklifts and other self-propelled off-road diesel vehicles. The ARB estimates that over its course, the rule will prevent at least 4,000 premature deaths statewide, and avoid US$18 to $26 billion in premature death and health costs.

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