Press Releases & Bulletins

DATE: June 10, 2002


Hails State Report on Dirty Diesel Loophole

(Washington, D.C. June 10, 2002) - The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today assailed what it called a "Trojan horse" plan by the Bush administration to weaken emission standards for big diesel trucks and buses.

The Bush plan was quietly unveiled in a statement late last Friday. Described as an "unusual collaboration" between the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Bush plan could permit diesel engine makers to "trade emission-reduction credits" rather than produce cleaner trucks and buses.

"This industry-friendly plan is a Trojan Horse," said , executive director of the Clean Air Trust. "In the guise of a cleanup plan, it would actually permit industry to evade the tough diesel truck standards set by the Clinton administration."

Previously, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman had supported the Clinton truck standards, O'Donnell noted.

"It is disturbing that she is apparently now backing away from her promises -- and from those much-needed truck standards," said O'Donnell. "It is equally disturbing that Whitman appears to be abdicating her authority -- and permitting OMB to run her agency."

O'Donnell's comments came as state and local air pollution regulators unveiled a new report that points out the massive health caused by emissions from dirty diesel engines used off the highway.

The report concludes that tough emission and fuel controls on these so-called "non-road" diesels could prevent more than 8,500 premature deaths and 180,000 asthma attacks a year. (Non-road diesels include such machines as construction equipment, bulldozers and portable diesel generators.)

"This report vividly underscores the massive health damage caused by non-road diesel engines," said , executive director of the Clean Air Trust. "It is high time that we close the dirty diesel loophole that permits non-road diesel engines to emit much higher levels of pollution than diesel trucks and buses."

He added that non-road diesel fuel contains high levels of poisonous sulfur. "Non-road diesel fuel literally contains 200 times the sulfur that will be allowed in highway diesel fuel in 2006," said O'Donnell. "Much of that sulfur is chemically converted to dangerous fine particle soot. The sulfur also prevents use of pollution control devices," O'Donnell noted.

"That's why health and environmental and state and local government groups have called on EPA to set standards for non-road diesel engines and fuel to match the progressive standards for highway trucks and highway diesel fuel," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell noted that existing emission standards for non-road diesel engines are "pitifully weak" and that non-road diesel fuel remains unregulated.

Today's study was released by two organizations representing state and local clean-air regulators, The State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (STAPPA/ALAPCO).

The study concludes that setting standards for non-road diesel engines and fuel comparable to highway engine and fuel standards would prevent more than 8,500 premature deaths a year.

It would also prevent more than 180,000 asthma attacks each and would bring an estimated $64 billion in health benefits.

"Cleaning up non-road diesel engines is a no-brainer," said O'Donnell. "It is simply a matter of environmental equity."

The Clean Air Trust is updating a Web site,, to allow the public to communicate directly with EPA on the need to clean up non-road diesel engines. The Trust used the same Web site two years ago to help people send comments to EPA on the need to clean up trucks and buses.

As always, please don't hesitate to call (202) 785-9625 if you'd like to discuss these or related issues.