The Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) today re-emphasized the critical importance of refiners’ maintaining the schedule for delivery of Ultra Low-Sulfur Diesel (less than 15 parts per million sulfur).
In order to meet the 90% emissions reductions required by EPA’s 2007 clean diesel rule, a systems approach including improved engines and aftertreatment devices is needed to achieve the impressive goal of near-zero emissions from diesel vehicles.
Ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel is the third leg in the systems approach and is a necessary prerequisite that enables the successful emissions reductions. Sulfur in diesel fuel poisons the aftertreatment equipment needed to achieve the emissions reductions called for by the 2007 rule.
In late May, the EPA announced that it will issue a rule later this year that will shift the retail compliance date for offering ULSD from September 1 to October 15, 2006, to allow more time for terminals and retail outlets to comply with the 15 ppm ULSD standard.
During this extended transition period, diesel fuel meeting a 22 ppm level will be able to be marketed as ULSD downstream in order to speed the transition.
The slippage makes the engine manufacturers, who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research, development, and engineering to assure that engine and aftertreatment technologies are available to meet the standards in 2007, uneasy.
The clean diesel technologies required by EPA’s 2007 rule are designed to operate on diesel fuel with less than 15 ppm sulfur content and need the ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to operate properly. There can be no slippage in the delivery schedule or quality of the fuel.
As we introduce these significantly cleaner engines and vehicles, potential buyers need the assurance that the appropriate diesel fuel required by this new technology will be available as promised. Over the last four years, engine manufacturers have designed and manufactured engine systems based upon single digit ppm sulfur content fuel with a cap of no more than 15 ppm, and we fully expect that a diesel fuel that complies with this requirement will be available.
Engine manufacturers have done their part and are ready with the engine and aftertreatment technology needed to meet the 2007 emission standards. Oil and pipeline companies and the EPA must assure that diesel fuel that fully complies with the established standards is available and delivered on-time. Any backsliding is unacceptable from a vehicle engineering and air quality viewpoint.—EMA President Jed Mandel
EMA has been consistent in its calls for on-time delivery of the low-sulfur fuel. In August 2001, at an EPA workshop, the EMA was equally clear: “Ultra low-sulfur diesel is needed to enable aftertreatment technologies and to allow-pull ahead of clean diesel technology, and we need it to be available no later than June 2006.”
The EMA has been involved in a number of court actions challenging compliance rulings (mostly in California against the ARB and Air Quality Management District). One case even made it to the Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see whether or not ULSD delivery triggers some sort of legal response by EMA. (That would assume that there is substantive delay in ULSD availability.)