WASHINGTON (March 14, 2008) -- Thousands of emergency room visits and more than 1,000 premature deaths will be avoided every year, once a long-awaited federal plan to clean up dangerous, lung-clogging emissions from railroad locomotives and large marine diesel engines is fully implemented, according to scientists and clean-air advocates at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has been advocating for a clean-up plan for more than five years.
The plan, contained in a rule announced by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson at a press conference in Houston today, will cut particulate soot pollution from new ship and train engines by 90 percent, starting in 2015. It will also cut smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent, starting in either 2014 or 2015, depending on the size and type of engine. Between now and then, ship and train engines will be required to be rebuilt to cleaner levels, as they undergo their regularly scheduled overhauls.
The following is a statement from Richard Kassel, director of NRDC’s Clean Fuels and Vehicles Project and a member of EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee:
“While ships and trains deliver many things Americans want, nobody needs to breathe their toxic soot. These ships and trains emit as much smog-forming pollution each year as 120 coal-fired power plants.
“EPA has delivered a strong program that will go a long way towards solving the problem of diesel train and ship pollution in the future.
“Thousands of asthma attacks and other health emergencies will be avoided, as the nation’s 40,000 ships and 21,000 diesel locomotives are cleaned up in years to come.
“Cleaning up trains and ships is an extremely cost-effective way to cut pollution. Judging from EPA’s data, every dollar invested in cleaner diesel engines should result in up to $15 in health savings.
“Like prior EPA rules that are dramatically reducing pollution from the nation’s trucks, buses, tractors, bulldozers, and other diesel engines, today’s new rule assumes that engine makers will use new pollution-cutting filters and catalysts to cut train and ship pollution.
“With this rule finished, two steps remain. First, given the long life of diesel engines, the nation’s ports, railyards, and freight haulers need to find ways to accelerate the clean-up of today’s dirty engines. Second, the global shipping industry needs to clean up the pollution from the foreign-flagged ships that are beyond the reach of today’s rule.”