Release 95-15

Contacts: Jerry Martin/Allan Hirsch                                                                August 10, 1995
(916) 322-2990

For Immediate Release

ARB Distributes Diesel Reimbursement Checks

        The California Air Resources Board today announced that it has begun to distribute more than 12,000 reimbursement checks to owners of diesel vehicles damaged after the 1993 introduction of California low sulfur diesel fuel.

        The first installment of about 6,000 checks was mailed today by the State Controller's Office, the remaining 6,000 will be distributed over the next several weeks as more claims are reviewed and approved for payment by the ARB. The checks, that range from $5.00 to the $550 maximum allowed for heavy-duty diesel trucks, farm or construction equipment and $450 for light-duty trucks and passenger cars ends the program set up to repay drivers of diesels damaged by the fuel when it was introduced in October 1993.

        "Today, the Air Resources Board and the State of California are paying for a mistake we made two years ago. While our diesel fuel is the cleanest in the nation, when it was introduced it caused some engine damage for which we are paying today. We are not only sorry, we are also accountable," ARB Chairman John Dunlap said.

        Assembly Bill 3290 was signed by Governor Wilson in 1994 to provide relief for diesel owners whose vehicles were damaged after the fuel was introduced in California. The law directed the ARB to use fees paid by oil companies unable to produce the new diesel blend by the October 1993 deadlines to reimburse owners whose vehicles developed leaks from pumps and fuel lines.

        The law provided diesel vehicle owners who were able to show proof of fuel-related damage and appropriate repair forms to claim reimbursement through the ARB's program. During the course of the program, ARB officials reviewed more than 13,000 claims for damage to diesel vehicles, mainly to rubberized fuel pump and injector parts of high mileage, older vehicles. There are about 750,000 diesel vehicles registered in California, including big-rig trucks, buses, passenger cars and light trucks.

        The cleaner-burning diesel blend was approved by the ARB after the USEPA developed rules that lowered the sulfur content of on-road diesel fuel. Both the state and federal rules took effect simultaneously, on October 1, 1993. While the USEPA fuel only required a reduction of sulfur levels to 0.05 percent from an average of .28 percent sulfur content commonly found in diesel fuels nationwide, the ARB's rule also required a reduction of aromatic hydrocarbons, which contribute to nitrogen oxide emissions, an essential component of urban smog. ARB data shows that while diesels only account for about 4 percent of California motor vehicles, they emit about 40 percent of all nitrogen oxides from mobile sources.

        The ARB recently was party to an agreement with the USEPA and many of the nation's largest diesel manufacturers that provides assurance of a national exhaust emission standard of 2.4 grams/brake/horsepower/hour for heavy-duty trucks in 2004. That Statement of Principals guarantees pollution reductions from long-haul trucks that emit as much as 20 percent of all the state's diesel vehicle emissions. The ARB's clean diesel fuel will help all diesel engine manufacturers to meet those new emission standards.

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