The American Lung Association has welcomed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency move to clean up heavy equipment and diesel fuel. The rule closes the loophole that left millions of engines ranging from small construction equipment, tractors and heavy equipment like bulldozers under regulated. EPA estimates that 738,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, a primary component of ozone or smog, and 129,000 tons of particulate matter will be reduced by this rule each year when fully implemented.
The EPA estimates the rule, to be phased in over the next 11 years, will save more than 12,000 lives per year by 2030. In addition, according to EPA, 6,000 children's asthma-related emergency room visits and 280,000 cases of respiratory symptoms in children will be avoided each year. EPA has classified diesel exhaust as a likely human carcinogen.
"This rule will help protect seniors, children and people with lung diseases including asthma, who are the most vulnerable to the harm from air pollution," said John L. Kirkwood, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "According to the American Lung Association State of the Air: 2004 report, more the 1 in 4 Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of particle pollution. Exposure to particle pollution leads to premature death. The clean up of nonroad diesel is necessary to protect public health."
The new rule follows a 1999 rule to clean up cars, SUVs and gasoline as well as 2000 rule to require tough new pollution standards for trucks and buses and diesel fuel.
"The goal of this rule is to reduce pollution and protect health. EPA employed a process that included dialogue with all stakeholders and we appreciate being a part of this inclusive process," added Kirkwood. "A compromise was forged on most issues with the exception of locomotive and marine engine diesel fuel where clean up has been delayed until 2012."
The nonroad regulation stands apart from other recent air pollution regulations, such as rewriting the New Source Review rules that did not include outreach to all stakeholders, are not designed to reduce pollution but rather assist polluters in avoiding pollution clean up and violate the Clean Air Act. Therefore, the American Lung Association, along with many others, have filed lawsuits to overturn these actions.
"Americans expect clean air. No child with asthma should have to worry about whether the air is safe for them to play outside. The promise of the Clean Air Act is air that will not harm the public. The nonroad diesel rule will move the nation toward cleaner air. But only with a more aggressive commitment to clean up all sources of pollution will clean air be achieved," stated Kirkwood.