Trump signs bill to relax air quality rule for Alaska diesel generators

Welder Carl Hefty works on Togiak’s new power plant on Aug. 3, 2018. The four new diesel generators should be supplying the village with power by mid-September. (Photo by Austin Fast, KDLG – Dillingham)

President Trump has signed a bill to exempt diesel generators in rural Alaska from an air quality rule. Village power utilities say the equipment needed to meet the so-called “Tier 4” emissions standard is impractical. They say the equipment causes generators to break down more and burn more fuel — two problems that are especially hard on remote communities.

The Tier 4 emission standards are from a rule the Environmental Protection Agency adopted in 2004. They’ve been phased in gradually, greatly reducing the amount of black soot and nitrogen oxides allowed in diesel exhaust.

Sen. Dan Sullivan sponsored the bill to exempt rural Alaska generators from the rule, with the support of Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young. Trump signed it Friday. 

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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