CARB Advisory on Diesel Emergency Generators Understates Public Health Benefits of Keeping the Juice On

Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from Diesel Technology Forum

    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In a strongly worded letter to the
 California Air Resources Board, the Diesel Technology Forum today charged the
 Board with the "use of unsubstantiated data" on the health effects from the
 emissions of sporadically-used emergency diesel generators.  Forum Executive
 Director Allen Schaeffer warned that by doing so, "CARB blows out of
 proportion the risks from the very machines whose primary purpose is often the
 protection of public health and assurance of public safety."
     "What we need is a reasonable policy from the state that recognizes public
 health and safety benefits from a more liberalized short-term use of these
 generators, not restricts their use in time of need," said Schaeffer.
     "It's a real case of tunnel vision to be worried about a few hours of air
 emissions when real lives are at stake and businesses are at risk," added
 Schaeffer.  "This is not the time to try to impose more stringent limits on
 emergency generators," said Schaeffer.  "Many of the regional air districts
 already limit emergency diesel generator use to 200 hours per year, or about
 eight days.  Projections of summer blackouts far exceed that number."
     Both federal and state laws require emergency generators to protect public
 health and safety.  Some specifically stipulate that these generators must
 reach full power within ten seconds of a power failure.  Only diesel
 generators meet that criteria and are powerful enough to keep the electricity
 flowing in hospitals, nursing homes, drinking water and sewage systems, and to
 provide continuous fire and police services as well as building safety in the
 form of working elevators, sprinkler systems, and other emergency equipment.
     In an advisory letter to the 35 regional air districts, the Air Resources
 Board acknowledges the importance of diesel emergency power during blackouts,
 but includes an attachment that suggests that the benefit might not be worth
 the resulting air pollution risks.
     The risk estimates used by CARB, however, are not substantiated and are
 contrary to other published data.  For example, CARB asserts that the
 increased use of diesel generator sets increases the risk of cancer in nearby
 neighborhoods by 50%.  It neglects to acknowledge, however, that other
 sources, such as the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, states only 1% of
 lung cancer comes from all air pollution.  In addition, while no study shows
 that exposure to diesel exhaust at current ambient air levels is associated
 with lung cancer, CARB suggests otherwise.
     Both the US EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the principal
 author of the health study upon which the CARB risk estimate was based, have
 declared that study to be invalid for calculating risk in the manner used by
 CARB.
     "By restating these controversial risk factors, CARB mischaracterizes the
 risks and unnecessarily scares people from using their one sure source of
 emergency power," said Schaeffer.
     CARB has also misconstrued the regulatory status of diesel generators, by
 erroneously stating (or implying) that ... emissions from these units are
 "unregulated."  These generators are regulated.  CARB has also included
 out-of-date information about diesel power generation systems by excluding
 reference to EPA's more stringent 2001 new engine emissions standards for
 non-road engines, including diesel generators.
     "As California faces its power crisis," stated Schaeffer, "people should
 feel relieved rather than scared to know that diesel generators are there to
 back them up.  Maligning this life-saving technology with questionable and
 misleading data only adds to anxiety about the power crisis and undermines the
 value of emergency generators to save lives and protect the safety of the
 community."
     "CARB's reluctance to encourage full use of diesel generators as needed
 during blackouts stands in sharp contrast with recent actions of other
 power-starved states", Schaeffer added.
     In New York, which anticipates the possibility of a power shortage this
 summer, Governor Pataki has encouraged use of diesel generators to avert
 blackouts.  His principal policy advisory and the immediate past Commissioner
 of Environmental Conservation, John P. Cahill, has observed that the
 "environmental carnage from a blackout would be much worse" than any adverse
 effect from expanded use of standby generators.  Similarly, the Independent
 System Operator for New England and the one for New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
 Maryland and part of Virginia have encouraged the use of diesel generators.
 
     The Diesel Technology Forum brings together the diesel industry, the broad
 diesel user community, civic and public interest leaders, government
 regulators, academics, scientists, the petroleum refining industry, and public
 health researchers, to encourage the exchange of information, ideas,
 scientific findings, and points-of-view related to current and future use of
 diesel power technology.
 
     For more information, the complete Forum letter to CARB and CARB's letter
 and attachment to local air districts, please visit the forum's web site at
 http://www.dieselforum.org
 
 

SOURCE Diesel Technology Forum
    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In a strongly worded letter to the
 California Air Resources Board, the Diesel Technology Forum today charged the
 Board with the "use of unsubstantiated data" on the health effects from the
 emissions of sporadically-used emergency diesel generators.  Forum Executive
 Director Allen Schaeffer warned that by doing so, "CARB blows out of
 proportion the risks from the very machines whose primary purpose is often the
 protection of public health and assurance of public safety."
     "What we need is a reasonable policy from the state that recognizes public
 health and safety benefits from a more liberalized short-term use of these
 generators, not restricts their use in time of need," said Schaeffer.
     "It's a real case of tunnel vision to be worried about a few hours of air
 emissions when real lives are at stake and businesses are at risk," added
 Schaeffer.  "This is not the time to try to impose more stringent limits on
 emergency generators," said Schaeffer.  "Many of the regional air districts
 already limit emergency diesel generator use to 200 hours per year, or about
 eight days.  Projections of summer blackouts far exceed that number."
     Both federal and state laws require emergency generators to protect public
 health and safety.  Some specifically stipulate that these generators must
 reach full power within ten seconds of a power failure.  Only diesel
 generators meet that criteria and are powerful enough to keep the electricity
 flowing in hospitals, nursing homes, drinking water and sewage systems, and to
 provide continuous fire and police services as well as building safety in the
 form of working elevators, sprinkler systems, and other emergency equipment.
     In an advisory letter to the 35 regional air districts, the Air Resources
 Board acknowledges the importance of diesel emergency power during blackouts,
 but includes an attachment that suggests that the benefit might not be worth
 the resulting air pollution risks.
     The risk estimates used by CARB, however, are not substantiated and are
 contrary to other published data.  For example, CARB asserts that the
 increased use of diesel generator sets increases the risk of cancer in nearby
 neighborhoods by 50%.  It neglects to acknowledge, however, that other
 sources, such as the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, states only 1% of
 lung cancer comes from all air pollution.  In addition, while no study shows
 that exposure to diesel exhaust at current ambient air levels is associated
 with lung cancer, CARB suggests otherwise.
     Both the US EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the principal
 author of the health study upon which the CARB risk estimate was based, have
 declared that study to be invalid for calculating risk in the manner used by
 CARB.
     "By restating these controversial risk factors, CARB mischaracterizes the
 risks and unnecessarily scares people from using their one sure source of
 emergency power," said Schaeffer.
     CARB has also misconstrued the regulatory status of diesel generators, by
 erroneously stating (or implying) that ... emissions from these units are
 "unregulated."  These generators are regulated.  CARB has also included
 out-of-date information about diesel power generation systems by excluding
 reference to EPA's more stringent 2001 new engine emissions standards for
 non-road engines, including diesel generators.
     "As California faces its power crisis," stated Schaeffer, "people should
 feel relieved rather than scared to know that diesel generators are there to
 back them up.  Maligning this life-saving technology with questionable and
 misleading data only adds to anxiety about the power crisis and undermines the
 value of emergency generators to save lives and protect the safety of the
 community."
     "CARB's reluctance to encourage full use of diesel generators as needed
 during blackouts stands in sharp contrast with recent actions of other
 power-starved states", Schaeffer added.
     In New York, which anticipates the possibility of a power shortage this
 summer, Governor Pataki has encouraged use of diesel generators to avert
 blackouts.  His principal policy advisory and the immediate past Commissioner
 of Environmental Conservation, John P. Cahill, has observed that the
 "environmental carnage from a blackout would be much worse" than any adverse
 effect from expanded use of standby generators.  Similarly, the Independent
 System Operator for New England and the one for New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
 Maryland and part of Virginia have encouraged the use of diesel generators.
 
     The Diesel Technology Forum brings together the diesel industry, the broad
 diesel user community, civic and public interest leaders, government
 regulators, academics, scientists, the petroleum refining industry, and public
 health researchers, to encourage the exchange of information, ideas,
 scientific findings, and points-of-view related to current and future use of
 diesel power technology.
 
     For more information, the complete Forum letter to CARB and CARB's letter
 and attachment to local air districts, please visit the forum's web site at
 http://www.dieselforum.org
 
 SOURCE  Diesel Technology Forum