Groups wants low-sulfur diesel fuel plan dead

The Associated Press
Thursday September 14, 2000

WHITTIER — Fearful that a proposal to sell only low-sulfur diesel fuel in Southern California will lead to fuel shortages, truck drivers and school districts called on officials Wednesday to kill the plan. 

The South Coast Clean Air Partnership and the California Trucking Association said the proposed rule likely would be ineffective. The rule would require four Southern California counties to sell only low-sulfur diesel after June 1, 2004 — two years before federal authorities impose similar standards. 

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is scheduled Friday to hold a public hearing on the proposal, which has drawn criticism from the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission. 

“Because this diesel will be the product of only a few refiners, even a small glitch will threaten supply and that threat will send prices through the roof,” said Bob Sulnick, an environmental attorney and director of the South Coast Clean Air Partnership. 

“With that prospect, and good old reliable diesel being sold just outside the district’s boundaries, trucking companies will be fueling up outside before driving in to make deliveries and pickups.” 

The South Coast Clean Air Partnership, which held a news conference Wednesday with the California Trucking Association at a trucking company’s office, is made up of several school districts, transit companies and businesses. 

The Air Resources Board has said it will reject the proposal if it passes, possibly marking the first time the board has rejected a regional plan to toughen anti-pollution rules.  

The board has said the proposal would do little to cut pollution and would add an unnecessary level of regulation. 

The AQMD rejects suggestions that its plan will lead to fuel shortages and other problems, pointing out that any refiners that can’t comply with the regulations can pay a mitigation fee that may amount to between two and five cents a gallon and still sell the regular diesel.