EPA Proposes to Cut Diesel Locomotive, Vessel Pollution

On March 2, EPA proposed a new rule to significantly reduce air pollution from locomotive and marine diesel engines -- a move supported by many environmentalists and health advocates.

"Cleaning up diesel locomotives and marine engines will save lives," said Christine Bryant, speaker of the American Lung Association Nationwide Assembly. "Communities across the nation urgently need these reductions to help clean up dangerous ozone and particle pollution. The American Lung Association will be pushing EPA through the public comment process to accelerate the timeline for the reductions."

The proposed Clean Air Locomotive and Marine Diesel Rule would set stringent emission standards and require the use of advanced technology to reduce emissions.

"By tackling the greatest remaining source of diesel emissions, we're keeping our nation's clean air progress moving full steam ahead," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Over the last century, diesels have been America's economic workhorse, and through this rule, an economic workhorse also is becoming an environmental workhorse."

When fully implemented, this initiative would cut particulate matter emissions from these engines by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides emissions by 80 percent. This would result in annual health benefits of $12 billion in 2030 and reduce premature deaths, hospitalizations and respiratory illnesses across the United States. These benefits would continue to grow as older locomotive and marine engines are replaced. Overall benefits are estimated to outweigh costs by more than 20 to 1, officials said.

The locomotive remanufacturing proposal would take effect as soon as certified systems are available, as early as 2008, but no later than 2010. Standards for new locomotive and marine diesel engines would phase-in starting in 2009. Long-term standards would phase-in beginning in 2014 for marine diesel engines and 2015 for locomotives. The rule also explores a remanufacturing program for existing large marine diesel engines similar to the existing program for locomotives. Other provisions seek to reduce unnecessary locomotive idling.

More information about the Clean Diesel Locomotive and Marine Program proposal and how to submit comments can be accessed:

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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