EPA Dirty Diesel Generator Rule Prioritizes Polluters Over People

On January 15th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a set of regulations that create large loopholes for dirty diesel and gas electricity generators. The rule, called National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE), allows diesel based electricity generators to expand their hours of operation without installing serious protections to clean up dangerous environmental toxins.

“Public health suffered a serious blow today with these loopholes for dirty diesel and gas generators.  Although EPA made some progress by cutting back on some of the loopholes they initially proposed and tightening up reporting and cleaner fuel requirements, this rule still represents an enormous gift to polluters at the public’s expense,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center.

Several years ago, EPA adopted rules limiting the amount of air toxics emissions – like formaldehyde and benzene – that are released from small diesel and gas fired generators. The units covered in today’s decision generate electricity at sites all around the country from farms, to oil refineries, to factories and the EPA estimates that there are over 1 million of these generators active in the US today.

“No one should get a free pass on air pollution,” said Liz Perera a senior policy analyst at the Sierra Club. “Pollution that harms our families and our communities, whether from a small local generator or a major plant, should be treated equally under the law. Don’t tell mothers that the only way to ensure a stable electric supply is to put their kids’ health in danger.  We have the technology to filter out most of the pollutants from these generators and it’s irresponsible for us not to do so.”

According to the EPA, pollution from diesel generators is known to cause, or contribute to, a myriad of dangerous health conditions including: cardiovascular disease, aggravation of respiratory conditions, premature death in people who suffer from heart and lung disease, and it is suspected of causing cancer.

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