According to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Assn. (NPRA), a lobbying group representing nearly all U.S. refiners, despite the energy supply concerns raised by the Gulf Coast hurricanes, there are no moves afoot to delay next June’s mandatory switch to ultra low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) for on-highway trucks.
On Oct. 4, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency waiver of the low-sulfur highway diesel fuel requirement (500 parts per million), through Oct. 25, for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The waiver was granted to free up more fuel supplies and to encourage foreign imports.
“We have not asked for any extension of the ULSD rule,” Charlie Dresna, NPRA’s director of technical advocacy activities told FleetOwner. “The industry is still pointing toward a June 2006 compliance date, and if that becomes problematic, we’ll readjust and confer with other stakeholders on an approach that’s necessary. Meanwhile, we’re working with the waivers we have right now.
“One thing that happened with the hurricane is that a hydrogen production plant was knocked out, and you need hydrogen to get sulfur out of the diesel,” Dresna added.
“Even without Rita and Katrina we had concerns about ULSD supplies,” Dresna said. “The impact the hurricane will have in early ‘06 through summer is yet to be determined. Ironically, a Nov. 10-11 workshop we are having on ULSD implementation was originally slated for New Orleans, but now it’ll be held in Phoenix.”
In late May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had provided a “transitional period” that extends the deadline for retail diesel outlets to provide ULSD until Oct. 15, 2006. The American Trucking Assns.(ATA) had expressed concern that engine and truck manufacturers might not honor warranty obligations if ULSD supply lags the release of EPA 2007-compliant diesel engines.