Massachusetts bill would mandate pollution controls on state diesel vehicles

| 10/26/2007

A bill on the move in the Massachusetts statehouse would require the state to equip its diesel vehicles with updated pollution controls. It also would set up a multi-million dollar fund to help private fleets update their engines.

The Senate Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee voted to advance a bill that would mandate the state retrofit its fleet by 2011. Municipal garbage and recycling trucks must be updated by 2012.

Supporters say the bill would significantly reduce diesel exhaust throughout the state. Massachusetts has the highest levels of particulate pollution in New England, and the fifth highest levels in the country, The Boston Globe reported.

Diesel engine pollution each year in the state contributes to 450 premature deaths, 700 heart attacks, 9,900 asthma attacks and 60,000 missed work days.

Sponsored by Sen. Jack Hart, D-Boston, the bill would apply the mandate to diesel vehicles weighing more than 14,000 pounds.

The price tag to retrofit each state-owned, leased or contracted diesel vehicle would range from $1,200 to $7,500. There are 1,200 such vehicles in the state’s fleet, The Globe reported.

The total costs to update the affected engines would be as much as $9 million.

Another provision in the bill would require the targeted trucks to use ultra low sulfur diesel. Among the rigs required to fill up with ULSD are those trucks “operating under contract to a state agency and state and regional public authority.”

The bill – S2338 – is awaiting consideration in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2007, click here.

– by Keith Goble, state legislative editor