Regional air quality officials approved a measure requiring use of low-polluting diesel fuel in much of Southern California, but set a later date for implementation after strong opposition from the trucking industry and state officials.

The new rule is the South Coast Air Quality Management District's first attempt to regulate diesel fuel. Effective Jan. 1, 2005, diesel fuel produced or imported into the area (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties) will be limited to no more than 15 parts per million of sulfur. The current limit is 500 parts per million and the average sulfur content of fuel sold is 133 parts per million.
This is later than the original 2004 start date the air quality district wanted. Representatives of Gov. Gray Davis, the heads of the California Air Resources Board and the state Energy Commission, were against the proposal, predicting that it could cause fuel shortages and dramatic price increases in the LA area.
The rule could take effect earlier, or as late as 2006. If the California Air Resources Board adopts the equivalent standard for diesel fuel statewide before 2005, AQMD’s rule will take effect on the same date as the state measure, but no later than June 1, 2006.
AQMD’s new low-sulfur diesel rule will take effect ahead of the proposed federal EPA measure, which as drafted would take effect June 1, 2006. The California Air Resources Board has discussed developing a rule to take effect sometime in the 2005-06 timeframe.