On June 1, the nation's refineries will begin producing low sulfur diesel fuel for use in off-road equipment. By December 1, locomotives and marine vessels, as well as farming, construction and mining equipment, are slated to switch to diesel containing nearly 85 percent less sulfur. This new off-road fuel has a sulfur content of 500 parts per million, reduced from approximately 3,000 parts per million in the previous blend.
By 2010, sulfur levels in most non-road diesel fuel will be reduced to 15 parts per million, making it possible for engine manufacturers to use advanced exhaust control systems that significantly reduce emissions. For locomotive and marine fuel, this step will occur in 2012.
Diesel is the predominant, and in some cases, exclusive source of power for many important sectors of the economy, including:
- Agriculture: Farms and ranches use diesel to power two-thirds of all agricultural equipment -- almost $19 billion worth of tractors, combines, irrigation pumps and other farm equipment.
- Construction: Nearly 100 percent of off-road construction equipment -- approximately $17 billion worth -- is diesel-powered.
- Mining: Diesel power accounts for 72 percent of the power used in mining.
- Freight Transport: Ninety percent of the nation's freight tonnage and 94 percent of its total freight ton-miles are moved by diesel power, and while trucks move much of this cargo, diesel-powered non-road modes such as rail, shipping and intermodal transport chains also play a key role.
For more information on off-road diesel equipment, download a Diesel Technology Forum report -- titled Diesel-Powered Machines and Equipment: Essential Uses, Economic Importance and Environmental Performance -- at http://www.dieselforum.org/.
More information is also available from the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance at http://www.clean-diesel.org