California makes the jump to ultra-low sulfur diesel

Starting today, on-road and off-road diesel vehicles in California will fill up with ultra-low sulfur fuel. California is leading the pack on this issue (natch); the rest of the U.S. will require on-road diesel vehicles to go ultra-low starting Oct. 15, but won’t require off-road vehicles to make the switch until 2010. The new diesel has a sulfur content of 15 parts per million; diesel currently on the market has a sulfur content of 150 ppm in California and 500 ppm in the rest of the U.S. Ultra-low sulfur diesel should be a big help in cleaning up the air. It will, however, cost 4 or 5 cents more per gallon in California, which has some transport groups worried. “Even a few pennies will make us go ballistic, and we’ll have to pass those costs on,” says Patty Senecal, vice president of Transport Express Inc. But cleaner air: priceless.