The California Air Resources Board voted yesterday to require particulate traps on new diesel engines sold in California, and that the traps be retrofitted on most existing diesel engines. The plan also requires production of low-sulfur diesel fuel, which is a necessity for the particulate traps to work.

Two years ago, CARB declared particulate matter in diesel exhaust to be a toxic air contaminant, capable of causing cancer -- a declaration that resulted in much controversy.
Details of the plan, which the agency says will cut emissions 75% over the next decade, will be spelled out in a series of regulations that CARB will act on over the next three years.
CARB estimates the cost to retrofit a 475-horsepower truck engine could cost $4,750 to $9,500.
The California Trucking Assn. supports the idea of retrofitting, but would rather have seen a voluntary program. The group urged CARB to help the group lobby for legislation that would help ease the financial burden on truckers, especially mom-and-pop operations.
CTA's proposal would suspend the sales tax on the low-sulfur fuel until 2006 and would impose a $50 per truck fee on California trucks and $15 to $20 for out of state trucks. The fee would be used for grants that would initially go to trucks owned by small operators. Not only is the financial burden greatest on owner-operators and small trucking companies, CTA says, but they also own many of the worst-polluting trucks.
The Engine Manufacturers Assn. gave its support to the initiative, especially that fact that CARB recognized the importance of ultra-low-sulfur fuel as a key element of the plan.
The engine manufacturers cautioned, however, that the program must be carefully developed to make sure the emissions goals are achievable, that the technology is available, and that durability, reliability and fuel efficiency are not compromised. EMA also warned CARB agsint basing diesel emission reduction policy solely on estimated health risks that have been called into question by leading scientists and health organizations.
For more information, visit the California Air Resources Board web site.