The US trucking industry now says it will not try to impede or delay a new federal rule aimed at cutting diesel pollution after years of resistance, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Officials of the American Trucking Associations, a trade group, told AP they were satisfied by the Bush administration's attention to industry concerns. The Clinton-era rule backed by President Bush's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001 requires cleaner diesel fuel beginning in 2006, and less-polluting diesel engines in tractor-trailer rigs and other heavy-duty trucks and buses starting in 2007. All new engines would be covered by 2010.

AP noted that the new rule requires refiners to lower the amount of sulspur in diesel fuel for truck and bus engines from the current level of 500 parts per million down to less than 15 parts per million by June 2006. It also requires manufacturers to phase in between 2007 and 2010 cleaner-burning diesel engines for tractor-trailer rigs and other heavy-duty trucks and buses.

The EPA reportedly estimated the new rule will cut emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, soot, carbon monoxide, acid rain-causing sulphur dioxide and other air toxics, preventing 8,300 premature deaths, more than 9,500 hospitalisations and 1.5 million lost work days.

New trucks will cost an average $US5,000 to $10,000 more and the fuel economy is expected to be only slightly less efficient, the ATA told the Associated Press.

The news agency noted that the trucking and petroleum industries opposed the 1997 EPA health standards to limit soot in the air.