March 8, 2013

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In late January EPA finalized revisions to emission standards for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE).  RICE are commonly used at manufacturing and other industrial sites to generate electricity and power equipment like pumps and compressors. EPA initially published new standards for RICE in 2010, but these were subject to a number of legal challenges and petitions for reconsideration.  According to EPA, the revised standards address those challenges and incorporate subsequent comment and technical information from stakeholders, including both industry and environmental groups.

Most RICE are powered by diesel fuel and emit of a number of air pollutants linked to cancer and other health problems.  The aim of the new rules is to reduce these emissions, resulting in annual health benefits of $830 million to 2.1 billion according to the EPA.

Approximately one million existing RICE nationwide are affected by the new federal standards, and many will require an engine retrofit in order to be brought into compliance. Many non-emergency diesel (compression-ignition or CI) engines face a compliance deadline of May 3, 2013, and non-emergency gas (spark ignition or SI) engines face a deadline of Oct. 19, 2013.  The new rules also address emergency RICE, which are used to provide backup power in emergencies or at times of peak use. Provided they are run for no more than 100 hours a year, emergency RICE are exempt from some of the revised standards, but beginning in 2015 most emergency RICE will be required to use a cleaner fuel—ultralow solar diesel (ULSD).

Fines for non-compliance can be steep—as high as $37,500 per day—so companies that own or operate RICE may wish to learn more about the new requirements and what they must do to comply.  To facilitate that process, EPA is hosting free webinars on complying with the new rules, with sessions scheduled for March 14 and 19.  Learn more information about the webinars.

For more information, read an overview fact sheet and an overview of rules regarding emergency RICE.