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Cancer Health Center

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New Report Fuels Fight Over Tighter Diesel Emission Rules


The industry groups say that the EPA and air advocates seek cuts in sulfur levels that are unrealistic. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), the reductions are "far beyond what is warranted to achieve environmental goals, and may be technologically impossible."

Julie Rosenbaum, spokeswoman for the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, tells WebMD that the lower sulfur levels would increase the price of diesel fuel and cause supply problems, as refineries shut down in order to alter their equipment to comply with new standards. The association and its allies back a less severe cut to sulfur levels that would be phased in more slowly than that favored by the EPA and pollution control officials.

API also claims the cancer projections are "broad extrapolations" that lack "sufficient scientific backup."

Paul Billings, a lobbyist with the American Lung Association, says that the industry's position is a "Chicken Little approach." He tells WebMD, "They want to ignore the health effects."

But as independent truckers make their second pilgrimage in a month to Washington to complain about high diesel prices, the air advocates acknowledge concern that the EPA proposal may change before it is publicly released later this year.

Becker tells WebMD, "There is a lot of pressure that is being mounted by the industry that might interfere with them doing the right thing." Noting that this is an election year, he says, "It's a weird political season, and anything can happen."

Vital Information:

  • Clean air advocates report that today's exhaust from diesel engines, left uncontrolled over one's lifetime, could cause more than 125,000 cases of lung cancer in the U.S.
  • The report comes as the White House reviews new regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One proposed measure is to cut the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel and to require engines to be able to filter out other contaminants.
  • Members of the petroleum industry say they fear the expense new EPA regulations would create, and they question the scientific validity of the report about diesel wastes causing cancer.
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