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EPA Releases Final Cleaner Fuel, Car Standards

The agency claims new standards will significantly lower harmful pollution while promoting fuel efficiency in cars and trucks.
March 4, 2014

​WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Based on extensive input from auto manufactures, refiners, states and public health and environmental organizations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced new standards for cars and gasoline that the agency claims will significantly reduce harmful pollution, prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses and enable efficiency improvements in vehicles.

These cleaner fuels and cars standards are an important component of the Obama administration’s national program for clean cars and trucks, which also include historic fuel efficiency standards that are saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump today. The standards will significantly reduce ground-level ozone, particulate matter, benzene and other air toxics in the air we breathe.

Automobile makers, states and environmental and public health organizations expressed their support of the changes. “EPA’s Tier 3 rule will provide a significant opportunity to further reduce emissions from the light-duty vehicle fleet by utilizing an integrated systems approach that combines advanced emission control technologies with advanced engine designs and very low sulfur gasoline fuel,” said Joseph Kubsh, executive director of the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association, in a press release.

“EPA has taken a giant step forward by finalizing regulations that cut harmful pollutants from existing and new cars and trucks,” said Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “We will see cleaner air and healthier families in Massachusetts because of this common sense, cost-effective rule to reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline.”

George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, added, “Millions of Americans struggle with health issues like asthma and respiratory problems that come from breathing air that’s heavy with smog and other pollutants. These rules will reduce air pollution by promoting cleaner gasoline and cleaner cars, and as a consumer group, we think it’s going to make a big difference for public health.  Low-sulfur gasoline will help automakers develop new technologies for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and when you add up the benefits for better health and better vehicles, we think it's a big win for consumers.”

The refining industry, however, reacted with concern. In a statement, Charlie Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said “EPA’s decision to move forward on Tier 3 is the most recent example yet of the agency’s propensity for illogical and counterproductive rulemaking. Tier 3 not only lacks scientific justification, but in fact will lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions due to the greater energy-intense refining process required to reduce sulfur in gasoline from 30 ppm to just 10 ppm. To date, refiners have achieved a 90 percent reduction in sulfur levels and the nation’s energy-related emissions are at their lowest level since 1994 according to EPA data. The Agency’s own data also shows that in the absence of Tier 3, emission reductions will continue.”

NACS is carefully reviewing the final rule to evaluate how EPA reacted to comments filed by the association on July 1, 2013.