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EPA proposes tough rules on heavy truck pollutants
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced strict clean air rules Wednesday that would require heavy-duty trucks and buses to curb their emissions significantly over the next 10 years.
The proposal would be the equivalent of eliminating the air pollution generated by 90 percent of all heavy trucks and buses in the United States.
The plan calls for reducing smog-causing nitrogen oxides from heavy-duty trucks and buses by 95 percent and reducing soot by 90 percent. Petroleum refiners would be required to cut the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel by 97 percent.
"Every American who has driven behind buses or heavy trucks is very familiar with the smell of diesel fuel and the clouds of thick exhaust emissions. Such air pollution is not just dirty and annoying, it is a threat to our health," EPA Administrator Carol Browner told reporters.
The standards would apply to new trucks and buses beginning in 2007, with full compliance by 2010. They would mandate that sulfur in diesel fuel be cut by 97 percent by June 2006.
The proposal is designed to reduce smog and other chemicals in the air that have been linked to diseases such as cancer and asthma.
Each year smog and soot account for 15,000 premature deaths, one million respiratory problems, 400,000 asthma attacks and thousands of cases of aggravated asthma, especially in children, according to the agency.
Under the Clean Air Act, the administration can implement new rules to protect air quality without congressional approval.
The public, however, must have an opportunity to comment on the proposals. The EPA said there will five public hearings about the proposed rules, in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles.
Forty-five days of public comment will follow the hearings. The EPA hoped to finalize the rules by the end of the year.
The American Trucking Association criticized the proposed rules, saying the EPA has gone "overboard." The oil industry said the new rules would lead to increased fuel prices and shipping costs.
The EPA said the proposal "allows adequate time and flexibility to meet the new standards."
"EPA has designed this proposal to include significant lead time for the introduction of new cleaner fuel into the marketplace and to ensure no disruptions in fuel supply," the agency said in a draft of the report.
"The proposal also discusses various flexible phase-in approaches for the diesel fuel industry to facilitate the complete transition to new clean diesel fuel and to reduce costs further."
The agency said the new rules would reduce air pollution as much as the stricter tailpipe emissions standards for passenger vehicles that President Clinton announced in December.
Light-duty trucks, mini-vans and sport utility vehicles would have to meet those same tailpipe emission standards beginning in 2004.
Soot eats clouds, turns up global thermostat
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
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