Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson said during a media conference call today that there are strong indications ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) will be widely available and uncontaminated during the transition to the retail level, which is effective Oct. 15.
“The good news is that [refiners and distributors are reporting] over 90% of diesel fuel that will come to the stations will be ULSD; the requirement was 80%,” Margo Oge, EPA director of the Office of Transportation Air Quality added.
ULSD has a sulfur content of 15 parts per million (ppm) is 97% cleaner than its current low sulfur diesel counterpart, which contains 500 ppm of sulfur. Low sulfur diesel will still be available in limited quantities after the Oct. 15, deadline and will be phased out completely by 2010.
EPA expects “availability of the older diesel to be sporadic across the country,” Oge said. Johnson said that the ULSD is expected to cost three cents more per gallon to produce than low sulfur diesel, down from earlier estimates of five cents more.
“I’m pleased to announce [the ULSD transition as] the single greatest achievement in clean fuel since lead was removed from gasoline more than 25 years ago,” Johnson said.
Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum said the energy content of ULSD will be 1% lower than that of low-sulfur diesel by volume. But with advances in other fuel saving technologies in ’07 model trucks, such as aerodynamics, degradation in fuel economy would be “virtually imperceptible.”
June 1 marked a deadline for refineries to allocate at least 80% of the highway diesel produced or imported to be ULSD, which means the cleaner fuel has already been flowing out of retail pumps for months.
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