New sulfur limits for heating oil should improve air quality

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New sulfur limits for heating oil should improve air quality

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 7:05am -- tim

As part of a regional low sulfur strategy developed by northeast and mid-Atlantic states, Vermont will limit the sulfur content in No. 2 fuel oil sold in the state to 0.05 percent by weight. The new regulation began July 1, 2014. Reducing sulfur in fuel oils will have significant health, environmental, and economic benefits, and each state in the region has committed to adopt and implement the new limits to comply with the Clean Air Act and reduce regional haze.  In the eastern United States, the dominant contributor to haze is sulfate formed from sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.

”In addition to reducing visibility, haze causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory health problems. Sulfur dioxide emissions also can lead to the acidification of lakes and streams, contribute to the damage of trees and sensitive forest soils, and accelerate the decay of building materials and paints,” said Elaine O’Grady, Director of the Air Quality & Climate Division of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation. 

“Because the fuel will be cleaner, consumers will save money from lower maintenance costs and an increase in efficiency,” added David Mears, Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

By July 1, 2018 the sulfur content in No. 2 fuel oil will be limited to 0.0015% by weight, No. 4 fuel oil will be limited to 0.25% by weight, and No. 5 and No. 6 residual oils limited to 0.5% by weight. No. 2 fuel oil is a light distillate heating oil used in homes and businesses, while No. 4 oil is a commercial heating oil used in burner installations not equipped with preheaters. Heavier residual oils like No. 5 and No. 6 are most commonly used in industrial operations.

The rule applies to fuel that is used, purchased, or sold for use in stationary combustion installations within Vermont for heat or power generation. Fuels that met the applicable limit at the time the fuel was stored in Vermont may continue to be stored, used, delivered, or exchanged in trade after July 1, 2014.

The new sulfur limitations will improve visibility, provide substantial health benefits, and lower costs for fuel consumers through lower maintenance and efficiency improvements. Full text of the rule can be found in section 5-221 of the Vermont Air Pollution Regulations, or by clicking here.