April xx
King County Executive
Ron Simms
400 King County Courthouse
516 Third Ave.
Sea. WA 98104-3272

Dear Administrator Simms,

In a letter dated March 9, 2001, WEC expressed concern to Governor Locke regarding increasing diesel emissions via the statewide Energy Supply Alert Orders, and also via energy suppliers who may choose diesel generation. Diesel emissions have already increased due to growth in the Puget Sound region, and there is little the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) can do to reduce them.

Diesel exhaust is a major source of fine particulate, which has been shown to result in significant adverse health effects. In addition, diesel exhaust contains over 40 chemicals that are listed California and EPA as toxic air contaminants, probable human carcinogens, known human carcinogens, reproductive toxicants and/or endocrine disrupters. Many of these toxics adhere to the fine particulate surface. For this reason diesel particulate and/or whole exhaust has been classed or recommended to be classed as a probable human carcinogen by the state of California, the EPA, the National Toxicology Program Advisory Board, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the National Institute of Health.

The EPA heavy duty vehicle engine and diesel sulfur content rules, and EPA standards promulgated for fine particulate matter are being vigorously opposed by industry. Even if not delayed by this opposition, the low sulfur diesel fuel rule would not take effect until 2005; and the engine rule would only affect manufactured trucks beginning in 2010.

Washington State must not wait for the federal government to protect public health. Although statewide diesel particulate reduction and PM2.5 standards are perhaps not possible at this time, an education program, as well as local or limited particulate reduction programs would be reasonable and timely, especially in metropolitan areas. One of the proposals made by PSCAA is the use of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and advanced technology catalytic converters on the public fleet of buses. Converting to ultra-low-sulfur fuel, and retrofitting catalytic converters and/or filter traps on urban buses can reduce the risks from diesel exhaust by as much as 90%. PSCAA has secured a significant grant from USEPA to begin the task of retrofitting the bus fleet. Several oil companies have offered to make the low-sulfur fuel available in the Puget Sound area. The City of Seattle, as well as some other communities, have agreed to participate in this program. This is an ideal opportunity to begin to reduce the significant public health impact of diesel emissions. This effort will not succeed, however, without the participation of King County, particularly King County Metro Transit.

Participation in this program will increase costs for the County. Although the USEPA will pay for some of the retrofit expenses, the grant will not cover all. Moreover, the low-sulfur fuel will cost about ten cents more per gallon. When compared to the public health benefits, however, these costs would appear negligible.

We urge you to support this effort by PSCAA to retrofit the public bus fleet and to require low-sulfur fuel use.

Thank you for your consideration.


King County Council
King County Courthouse
516 Third Ave. Room 1200
Sea. WA 98104-3272

King County Metro Transit
King Street Center
M.S. KSC-TR-0415
201 S Jackson Street
Seattle, WA 98104-3856

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
110 Union Street Ste 500
Seattle WA 981101