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Published: Thursday, 5/13/2004

Diesel rules applauded: EPA expects significant impact on Toledo smog

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It won't be a panacea for the Toledo area's smog problem.

But the Bush administration's new set of rules for off-road diesel machines should make it a little bit easier for several area counties - Lucas, Wood, Allen, Monroe, Lenawee among them - to eventually come back into compliance for smog-forming ozone with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"It will have a significant impact on ozone and particulate matter," Steve Marquardt, an EPA environmental engineer in Chicago, said of the new diesel rules.

Even the Ohio Environmental Council, one of the state's staunchest critics of Bush administration environmental policies, passed along its kudos on this one.

"We congratulate the Bush administration for finalizing a strong rule to cut emissions from nonroad diesel engines in the long term and not bowing to industry pressure to weaken the rule," Staci Putney, the council's clean air associate, said.

The latest rules, intended largely for machines such as construction equipment and farm tractors, are a companion to those earlier passed for on-road diesel vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, and for locomotive and marine vessels.

The rules call for sulfur reductions in diesel fuel, plus more efficient diesel engines, to be phased in at various stages over the next decade.

If emission reductions end up being as dramatic as anticipated, the onus placed on industrial sources to cut back on pollution may not have to be as steep, officials said.

Lucas, Wood, Allen, Monroe, and Lenawee counties were among 474 counties the U.S. EPA designated on April 15 to be out of compliance for ground-level ozone. Some 104 of those counties are in the Midwest.

Several of the nation's urban areas, including Toledo, are expected to be designated out of compliance by the U.S. EPA later this year for particulate matter, too.

The agency focuses on six so-called criteria pollutants - ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead - to give Americans better air to breathe.

Counties that stay in compliance have a regulatory atmosphere that fosters industrial growth. Those unable to meet criteria pollutant thresholds must work with their state environmental agencies on plans for getting back into compliance.

"This is an action that will assist the states in meeting the standards," Mr. Marquardt said.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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