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NRDC Coalition Urges President to OK EPA Diesel Fuel Rule

Environmentalists, Auto Industry, Fuel Producer and Others Join for First Time

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2000) - An unprecedented coalition of environmentalists, automakers, fuel producers, truckers, engine manufacturers and public officials issued a letter today urging President Clinton to finalize a proposal to clean up diesel fuel and diesel engine emissions. The rule, which the Environmental Protection Agency proposed last May, would eliminate 97 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel by mid-2006, and require reductions of 95 percent in nitrogen oxides emissions and 90 percent in particulate matter emissions beginning with the 2007 engine model year.

"Our coalition members donít always agree on every issue, but we do agree on this: EPAís proposal would clean up the air and benefit all Americans," said Rich Kassel, director of the Natural Resources Defense Councilís Dump Dirty Diesel Campaign and organizer of the coalition. "The environmental benefits would be huge. It would be comparable to permanently removing 13 million trucks from our roads."

The letter to President Clinton was signed by five environmental groups (the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), U.S. Public Interest Research Group, American Lung Association, Sierra Club and Clean Air Network); the automaker trade organization (Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers); the largest U.S. independent oil refiner (Tosco); a vehicle technology trade group (Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association); an engine manufacturer (International Truck and Engine Corporation); a state truckers group (California Trucking Association); and three public official associations (Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials, State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators, and Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management).

In the letter, the coalition groups maintained that the best way to clean up diesel emissions is with "a single, national fuel containing sulfur capped at 15 parts-per-million (ppm), fully implemented in mid-2006."

"Nearly eliminating sulfur from diesel fuel would be the most significant vehicle pollution measure since taking lead out of gasoline," Kassel explained. "Just as lead in gasoline was a barrier to the use of catalytic converters in cars, todayís high levels of sulfur in diesel fuel obstruct advanced catalysts and other diesel pollution controls."

The Department of Energy, meanwhile, has proposed a competing plan that would phase in low-sulfur diesel over a 10-year period. The coalition warned against phasing in the rule, which would require the availability of low- and high-sulfur fuel over the implementation period.

"The DOE approach is fundamentally flawed," said Kassel. "Any phase-in approach that results in a two-fuel system would undermine the environmental benefits of the rule; delay sales of the new, cleaner diesel engines; require unnecessary, multibillion dollar capital investments by the nationís diesel refiners, transporters and sellers; and result in a needless burden on the nationís truck drivers and 58,000 retail fuel sellers."

Both EPA and President Clinton have called the EPA diesel proposal their top air pollution priority, and it enjoys widespread support. For example, EPA received more than 70,000 letters, emails and faxes supporting the rule during its public comment period. And a range of interest groups besides those that signed the coalition letter, including the two largest diesel fuel companies (BP and Tosco), support the sulfur portion of the rule.

If the White House adopts any part of the DOE proposal, Kassel fears that the coalition he pulled together would fall apart and the rule could be weakened by Congress or a Bush administration. "The Clinton administration is on the verge of a historic environmental achievement," he said. "But it needs to finalize the EPA proposal as soon as possible."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Natural Resources Defense Council - U.S. Public Interest Research Group - American Lung Association - Sierra Club - Clean Air Network - Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers - Tosco Corporation - International Truck and Engine Corporation - Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association - California Trucking Association - State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators - Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials - Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management

December 6, 2000

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20050

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to strongly urge you to finalize the Environmental Protection Agencyís proposal on diesel fuel and emissions as soon as possible. While our organizations may not always agree on every issue, we agree on this: EPAís proposal to reduce the sulfur levels in highway diesel fuel by 97 percent nationwide, beginning in mid-2006, will lead to a paradigm shift in diesel emissions that will yield important environmental and public health benefits for every American. When it is implemented, this sulfur reduction will provide the critical step toward meeting EPAís proposed 90 percent reductions in particulate matter and 95 percent reductions in nitrogen oxides.

Our organizations believe that the only logical approach to making this shift is a single, national fuel containing sulfur capped at 15 parts-per-million (ppm), fully implemented in mid-2006. Higher levels of sulfur will disable the most promising emissions controls -- controls that will be necessary to meet EPAís proposed emissions standards. Moreover, any phase-in approach that results in a two-fuel system would jeopardize the environmental benefits of the rule; delay sales of the new cleaner diesel engines; require unnecessary multibillion dollar capital investments by the nationís diesel refiners, transporters and sellers; and result in a needless burden on the nationís truck operators and 58,000 retail fuel sellers.

Your administration is on the verge of a historic environmental achievement. The near-elimination of sulfur from on-road diesel fuel would be the most significant step to reduce vehicle pollution since the removal of lead from gasoline. Just as leaded gasoline was a barrier to catalytic converters and cleaner cars in the 1970s, todayís high levels of sulfur in diesel fuel is a barrier to promising new emission controls for diesel vehicles.

Together, the undersigned organizations represent a unique and broad-based cross-section of the American public and economy. We have come together because we want to demonstrate the broad-based support and consensus for EPAís proposal -- and the need to finalize it as soon as possible.

Together, we applaud the Clinton administration for making the adoption of low-sulfur fuels that enable essential new emission control technologies a top priority. We look forward to working with you and your administration to ensure the success of the diesel fuel and emissions rule before the end of the year.

Sincerely,

John Adams, President, Natural Resources Defense Council

Gene Karpinski, Executive Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group

John R. Garrison, CEO, American Lung Association

Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club

Jayne Mardock, Executive Director, Clean Air Network

Josephine F. Cooper, President and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers *

Ann Farner Miller, Vice President for Government Relations, Tosco Corporation

Brian Whalen, Vice President, International Truck and Engine Corporation

Bruce Bertelsen, Executive Director, Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association

Stephanie Williams, California Trucking Association

Bruce Becker, Executive Director, State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators/Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials

Jason S. Grumet, Executive Director, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management

* Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers members: BWM Group, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Fiat Auto S.p.A., Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Isuzu Motors America, Inc., Mazda North America Operations, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc., Nissan North America, Inc., Porsche Cars of North America, Inc., Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Volkswagen of America, Inc., Volvo Cars of North America, Inc.

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