October 31, 2005

Amending regs set sulfur limits for diesel fuel in off-road uses

Final regulations to significantly reduce sulfur levels in diesel fuel used for rail, marine and other off-road purposes such as construction, agricultural and industrial equipment have been published in the October 19, 2005 edition of the Canada Gazette, Part II. The regulations amending the Sulfur in Diesel Fuel regulations will come into force on January 1, 2006.

The amending regulations introduce limits on sulfur in off-road, rail and marine diesel fuels produced, imported or sold from the current unregulated level to 500 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) limit, starting in 2007; this will be further tightened to 15 mg/kg, starting in 2010 for off-road diesel fuel and 2012 for production and import of rail and marine diesel fuel.

The 500 mg/kg limit will remain for sales of rail and marine diesel fuel in order to provide a sales outlet for fuel potentially contaminated during distribution from the refinery or between the point of import and the point of final sale.

The new rules build on Sulfur in Diesel Fuel regulations promulgated in 2002 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act; these set sulfur limits for diesel fuel used for on-road vehicles. The amending regulations address the divergence between on-road and off-road vehicle emissions as well as rail and marine emissions.

The two-phase target approach to reducing the sulfur limit, as set out in the new regulations, is required to meet industry standards. The 15 mg/kg limit in 2010 ensures that the level of sulfur in diesel fuel reaches the standards for the effective operation of new-generation low-emission diesel engines for off-road construction, mining, farming and forestry equipment coming onto the market in model year 2011.

The new controls are projected to result in a reduction in sulfur levels of about 99% in four years from the current, unregulated average level of sulfur in off-road, rail and marine diesel fuel. There will also be substantial environmental and human health benefits, and engines using the new fuel will be more fuel-efficient, with reduced emissions and lower maintenance costs.

"These regulatory measures are part of our overall agenda for making fuels and vehicles cleaner in order to protect human health and the environment," said Environment Minister St├ęphane Dion. "The overall clean air plan for North America aims for delivery of less polluting vehicles and engines, expanded pollutant reporting by industry and reduced emissions from industry." He further noted that the new Canadian standards are aligned with U.S. requirements.

Related federal regulatory initiatives include the phasing in of further, more stringent standards under the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission regulations to reduce smog-forming emissions from 2004 and later model year on-road vehicles.

The Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission regulations, which came into effect on January 1, 2005, established, for the first time, emission standards for new spark-ignition engines (typically gasoline-fuelled) found in lawn and garden machines, in light-duty industrial machines, and in light-duty logging machines.

And beginning in 2006, the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission regulations will introduce the first emission standards for compression-ignition engines (typically diesel- fuelled) in various types of off-road equipment used mostly in the mining, forestry, construction, and farming sectors.

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