The EPA has published in the Federal Register a direct final rule (DRF) granting a 45-day extension for terminals and retail outlets to ease the transition to ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel next year.

Terminals will have until Sept. 1, 2006 and retailers until Oct. 15 to complete their transition to ULSD. ULSD will have no more than 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur. But during the 45-day extension period, terminals and retailers will be allowed to sell diesel fuel with sulfur content of up to 22 ppm as ULSD. The extension is aimed at accounting for the residual excess sulfur from earlier higher-sulfur content diesel that may mingle with 15-ppm ULSD during transport.

A recent 2005 refiner pre-compliance report indicated that about 90% of the highway diesel fuel produced or imported will meet the 15-ppm sulfur standard by June 1, 2006. This would exceed the EPA mandate that by June 1 2006 at least 80% of the highway diesel must be ULSD.

“More than 90% of the refineries that have been evaluated are on track to deliver this fuel by June 1,” Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, told Fleet Owner. “That suggests a high level of readiness, which is good news.”

EPA indicated that this is a hard deadline, stating “any further delays would be considered unacceptable.” The agency also stressed that the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had nothing to do with the rulemaking.

Indeed, the DRF echoes EPA’s announcement made in May—well in advance of Hurricane Katrina. See Ultra low sulfur diesel deadline extended 45 days.

Separately, International Truck & Engine Corp. this week specified the amount of the price premiums expected for its 2007 diesel truck models, which will incorporate new emissions reduction technology to comply with EPA 2007 emissions standards for highway commercial vehicles. Specifically, engine modifications to reduce emissions, larger cooling systems to control increased engine heat, and exhaust aftertreatment systems that include a diesel particulate filter (DPF) are going to add from $5,000 to $6,000 to the base cost of International’s medium-duty trucks and school buses and from $7,000 to $10,000 to the base price of its Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles, the OEM said.

See International reveals ’07 engine costs.

No other commercial truck OEM has yet released any pricing information on 2007 models.