Law firm counters diesel emissions report

user-gravatar

The international law firm Jones Day has challenged the 2005 Clean Air Task Force Report by publishing a white paper disputing claims about the health risks of diesel fuel emissions.

The Jones Day white paper asserts that the CATF Report uses outdated science and exaggerated calculations. Written by Michael Gibson, partner in the Houston office of Jones Day, the white paper focuses on what it calls “the two most egregious errors in the CATF Report.”

Calls requesting comment from CATF, a nonprofit organization that focuses on air quality research and advocacy, were not returned. The group is made up of 20 scientists, economists and other specialists.

The paper first challenges CATF’s allegations that diesel exhaust is highly toxic because of trace amounts of several potentially hazardous substances. Then it challenges the claim that diesel exhaust caused massive deaths in 1999 and will have caused 21,000 deaths by 2010 and 100,000 deaths between 2005 and 2030.

Using scientific reports, including tables from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the white paper concludes that “the CATF Report is flatly contradicted by sound science.” The paper alleges that the CATF report is an attempt to “force EPA, state and local air pollution control agencies to require retrofitting of existing diesel engines.”

Jones Day believes that the CATF Report will generate new toxic tort litigation by claiming thousands of diesel-induced deaths each year.

The CATF report calls for state actions, such as enacting legislation that requires diesel cleanup, reductions in emissions and early engine retirement; expands state funding for cleanup; requires ultra-low sulfur diesel and cleaner fuel alternatives; and adopts and enforces anti-idling rules. The report calls for the federal government to fund such cleanups, explore regulations for reducing emissions and enforce cleaner standards.

While there have been no signs of support for a mandatory diesel retrofit program in Congress since the CATF report was published, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) proposed a $1 billion voluntary diesel engine retrofit program in the energy bill last week. The bill has gained bipartisan support, as well as the backing of both CATF and the Diesel Technology Forum.

The Jones Day white paper can be read at www.jonesday.com/files/tbl_s31Publications/FileUpload137/5431/Diesel%20Exhaust%205_05%20v2.pdf.

The CATF Report is available at www.catf.us/publications/view/83.