Environmental Defense And EPA Agree To Close Diesel Loophole

Environmental Defense and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed in mid July to a proposed legal settlement requiring the agency to establish national clean air standards for diesel and gas industrial engines used in on-site electric generation, oil and gas development, agricultural pumps and equipment, and a variety of other applications. Stationary diesel engines are currently unregulated by EPA even though they release the same harmful air pollutants as other diesel-powered machines. There are about half a million diesel and gas stationary engines in use nationwide, and thousands more manufactured each year.

"This agreement will help protect our children's lungs by closing a loophole that has allowed thousands of diesel engines to avoid clean air safeguards," said Environmental Defense senior attorney Vickie Patton.

"The black plume of smoke from these diesel engines makes children with asthma sicker," said Dr. John Balbus, a physician and director of the Environmental Defense health program. "Requiring these high-polluting engines to meet clean air standards will make a real human heath impact, especially for the people who live near them."

The proposed settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by Environmental Defense in federal district court (Northern District of California) on December 8, 2003. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be finalized. The settlement requires EPA to propose clean air standards for stationary diesel engines by June 29, 2005, and finalize the standards by June 28, 2006. It also requires EPA to propose clean air standards for stationary gas engines by May 23, 2006, and to finalize the standards by December 20, 2007. EPA's standards would apply to newly manufactured engines nationwide.

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