New Diesel Rule Cuts Emissions from Trains, Ships

HOUSTON, Texas, March 14, 2008 (ENS) - Today at the Port of Houston federal officials announced tough new emissions standards for locomotive and marine diesel engines. The standards will be achieved through the combination of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and advanced engine systems.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson signed the Locomotive and Marine Diesel Engines Rule that will slash diesel emissions, helping Americans to breathe cleaner air.

Attending the signing ceremony were EPA Regional Administrator Richard Greene, Port of Houston Authority Planning and Environment Director Charlie Jenkins, Association of American Railroads President Ed Hamberger, and Goeff Conrad, representing the Engine Manufacturers Association.

"This is another step in the continuing process to bring cleaner air to Texas and the nation," said Greene. "Each step brings new achievements and cleaner technologies to improve the health of our residents and our quality of life."

The EPA's Clean Diesel Locomotive and Marine program will cut emissions from all types of diesel locomotives, including line-haul, switch, and passenger rail, as well as from a wide range of marine sources, including ferries, tugboats and all types of marine auxiliary engines.

Ships berthed at the Port of Houston (Photo credit unknown)

Environmentalists welcomed the new rule. "These clean air standards will mean millions of Americans will have healthier and longer lives," said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. "From trains to ferries, the nation is transitioning to a bold new era of cleaner diesel engines. As today's diesel fleet turns over, diesel engines will no longer churn out suffocating black plumes of smoke."

For the first time, the new rule requires remanufacturing standards for marine engines, reductions in engine idling, and the use of after treatment technology that will further reduce diesel emissions.

Most of the ships and trains in the United States today are powered by diesel engines. Diesel trains and ships, such as ferries and tugboats, are major sources of air pollution.

Diesel exhaust contains toxic chemicals that together with diesel particulate matter pose a cancer risk greater than that of any other air pollutant. Each year, diesel locomotives and commercial ships together emit nearly two million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides. Both are major sources of lethal particulate pollution.

Phasing in tighter long-term standards for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides will begin in 2014 for marine diesel engines and in 2015 for locomotive engines. Advanced after-treatment technology will apply to both types of engines. The effective dates for the new nitrogen oxides standard will be two years earlier than proposed last year.

The Green Goat is a low emissions diesel hybrid locomotive that will help the rail industry meet the new standard. (Photo credit unknown)

The rule includes the first national emission standards for existing marine diesel engines, applying to engines larger than 600kW when they are remanufactured - to take effect as soon as certified systems are available, as early as 2008.

As a result of the rule, the Houston-Galveston area is expected to see reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions in the Houston metropolitan area of more than 15,000 tons in 2020 and 32,000 in 2030.

In 2020 the final rule will annually reduce particulate matter emissions in the Houston metro area by 560 tons and by 2030 these reductions will double to about 1,200 tons per year.

The rule provides for clean air standards comparable to those that EPA has adopted for large diesel trucks and buses, and for construction, mining and agricultural equipment.

"EPA deserves praise for issuing a final rule that is stronger than its original proposal," said Environmental Defense Fund staff attorney Janea Scott, who testified at an EPA hearing last May about the proposed rule and attended the EPA announcement of the final rule in Houston.

"These additional and earlier reductions in pollution mean cleaner, healthier air sooner," said Scott. "Cleaner diesel engines will improve the health of our neighborhoods and communities near ports and railyards, and will help keep the nation on track in achieving the new health standard for smog."

The Port of Houston is a 25 mile long complex of diversified public and private facilities located a few hours' sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in the U.S. in total tonnage, and tenth in the world in total tonnage. In an average day more than 700 vessel transits take place here.

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