NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Diesel Fuel Standards Would Raise Prices, Risk Shortages

March 15, 2000

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose soon a lowering of the current sulfur content standard for diesel fuel and revise standards for diesel engines on trucks. The new rules, which are still being studied by the White House's Office of Management and Budget, would be phased in during 2006 and 2007.

Oil industry leaders object to them on the grounds they would exacerbate the nation's current fuel supply problems and the American Trucking Association has its qualms as well.

  • The ATA warns that lowering the sulfur content from the current 500 parts-per-million to 15 ppm in diesel fuel would raise fuel prices as much as 10 cents per gallon, and sharp cuts in nitrogen oxide could necessitate substantial changes in diesel engine design.
  • The group also wants any changes imposed on trucks to also apply to farmers, railroads and other off-road diesel engine users who are now exempt from the tougher standards.
  • Oil refiners predict severe supply problems will erupt not only for diesel fuel, but for home heating oil as well if the standards are set so low.
  • If the EPA goes ahead, refiners would have more difficulties delivering both diesel and home heating oil to a given area because they can't be shipped in the same pipelines and trucks while still maintaining differing sulfur contents.

Environmental groups claim diesel exhaust may be causing accelerated rates of cancer in major cities. Not only do they want the fuel cleaned up, they want to "move away from diesel engines."

Source: John J. Fialka, "EPA's Push to Tighten Diesel Standards Sparks a Warning From the Oil Industry," Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2000.


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