Closing the Diesel Divide

On April 15th, the American Lung Association and Environmental Defense released a new report examining the harmful impacts of diesel air pollution on public health. Closing the Diesel Divide shows that the breathtaking range of hazards posed by diesel exhaust stands in stark contrast to the chaotic patchwork of regulations that governs diesel pollution sources. The report focuses on two major sources of diesel pollution that represent holes in the regulatory patchwork: (1) diesel engines used in a range of nonroad equipment such as construction, industrial, surface mining, and agricultural, and (2) diesel-powered electrical generators. The report is available at and and

"Cleaning up the harmful pollutants discharged from large diesel equipment and diesel electric generators are among the most important measures that can be taken to help millions of Americans breathe healthier air," said John L. Kirkwood, president and CEO, American Lung Association.

"This report identifies viable, sensible ways to protect public health from diesel air pollution by filling in the holes in the chaotic patchwork of programs governing this pollution," said Vickie Patton, Environmental Defense senior attorney.

The American Lung Association and Environmental Defense recommend the following key steps that should be taken in order to protect public health from the harmful effects of air pollution from these two major categories of diesel engines:

  • Adopt protective national emission and fuel standards for large nonroad equipment that reflect the federal government's recently adopted standards for large highway diesel engines.
  • Address the full suite of diesel engines that have eluded meaningful clean air protections, from compact loaders to large commercial marine vessels.
  • Implement federal and local retrofit programs to lower air pollution and protect public health immediately without waiting for the next generation of equipment to replace existing machines.
  • Close the long-standing loophole that allows diesel electric generators to operate without meeting any federal emission standards.

"Diesel exhaust contains a host of harmful contaminants that together pose a cancer risk greater than that of any other air pollutant, as well as causing other short and long term health problems," said Dr. John Balbus, Environmental Defense public health program director and physician.

For nearly 100 years, the American Lung Association and Lung Association affiliates throughout the United States have worked together in the fight against lung disease.|

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