Friday, February 9, 2007

Diesel Clean-Up


Photo copyright Bruce Crowder 2007

This morning in Hartford, the Connecticut legislature will be hearing public testimony on a bill intended to target school bus pollution (yes, I should have posted this sooner). Clean Water Action and other groups are asking the state to retrofit school buses with diesel oxidation catalysts, or DOCs, and other pollution control equipment. These retrofits have recently been approved by the EPA and have been show to drastically reduce diesel emissions (click here for a list of available equipment and emission figures and here for a description of the technology).

I was a bit slow to come aboard the campaign and I can't say I'm on 100%. The problem for me is that the DOCs are not certified for use with biodiesel, which not only significantly reduces emissions but also reduces our dependency on foreign oil. In the near term, though, biodiesel is probably not likely to be used by state vehicles in concentrations greater than about 20%, which leads to only modest reductions. So, the retrofit approach has a greater health impact, but discourages use of renewables. It will prevent the state from meeting it's alternative fuels standard with biodiesel (Gov Jodi Rell calls for mandatory 10% mix in state vehicles by 2012) and it will push us towards other "alternatives" such as compressed natural gas.

I'm not sure that biodiesel would actually pose a problem for these catalysts, but without dedicated testing I can understand why manufacturers would void warrantees. Perhaps we could encourage testing and certification with biodiesel.

If you are interested in this campaign, contact Roger Smith via email or telephone: 860-232-6232.

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