Ultra-low-sulfur diesel could complicate future EPA fuel waivers

| 3/24/2006

With many parts of America still recovering from last year's hurricane season, it may seem a bit early to be thinking about this year's storms, but the 2006 hurricane season begins June 1.

And officials with the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday, March 20, that the waivers the agency issued last year when diesel supplies were disrupted by the hurricanes might be trickier in the face of ultra-low-sulfur diesel regulations.

Reuters reported that David Kortum, a motor fuel regulation official with the EPA, told the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association that when ULSD hits the retail level Oct. 15, it will complicate the process of granting waivers because regular low-sulfur diesel could damage new engines designed to use only ultra-low-sulfur diesel.

“It's going to be worse next time,” he said. “It's going to be harder.”

In 2005, because of supply disruptions, the EPA issued 30 waivers that allowed off-road diesel – known to many truckers are red-dyed diesel – to be sold for on-road use in regions where it is ordinarily not allowed.

According to reports from CNN , refiners will start shipping ULSD in June. However, federal regs do not require that all new diesel engines be required to take the new fuel until 2007.