ULSD transition begins June 1

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Thursday, June 1 marks the beginning of the transition to ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that by June 1, 80 percent of the on-road diesel fuel refined or imported must be ultra-low-sulfur diesel. Retail outlets have until Oct. 15 to comply with the ULSD rules.

The new fuel standard reduces the amount of sulfur in on-road diesel by 97 percent and will support low-emission diesel engine technologies hitting the market in 2007. “The trucking industry recognizes the critical role that ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel plays in ensuring future diesel emission reductions,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “The industry remains concerned, however, that the transition could create fuel supply disruptions and operational challenges.”

According to ATA, the transition to ULSD could cause fuel supply and availability disruptions because it is contaminated easily during transport through a complex system of pipelines and fuel terminals that also transport high-sulfur products like home heating oil or jet fuel. Transitioning to ULSD also initially may decrease domestic refining capacity, ATA believes; increased imports are expected to make up for the shortfalls, but this would further increase U.S. dependence on foreign energy.

ATA says trucking is committed to meeting the 2007 emissions reduction standards, but ULSD will force the trucking industry to spend more money on fuel that is less efficient at a time when current fuel prices already are hitting historic levels. ULSD is expected to add about 5 cents to the production and distribution of every gallon of fuel, reducing fuel economy by up to 1 percent.