The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new rules today that significantly cut tailpipe pollution from vehicles.
As usual with the EPA, the regulations have been delayed since 2011.
The standards, already in place in California, would reduce the amount of sulfur in US gasoline by two-thirds and nitrogen oxides by 80% through fleet-wide emission limits on new vehicles..
"We know of no other air pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emission reductions," says Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
Less than a penny per gallon will be added to the cost of gasoline, while reducing the pollution produced by taking 33 million cars off the road. EPA estimates annual health benefits of $23 billion by 2030.
Sulfur in gasoline reduces the effectiveness of catalytic converters, which control tailpipe emissions. The standards will cut emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and fine particles 70-80% – major causes of smog and soot – which lead to respiratory and heart disease.
States like the rules because cleaner gasoline makes it much easier to meet air quality standards, and the auto industry likes it because requirements would be the same across all 50 states.
The oil industry, however, doesn’t like it. Lobbyists claim it will cost $10 billion to upgrade refineries and $2.4 billion a year more in operating costs. In a survey of US refineries, however, EPA found that just 16 refineries have to significantly upgrade; 29 come close or meet the standards and 66 need small modifications.
Last year, regulations were issued to control sulfur emissions from ships. The EPA issued rules that would have greatly reduced sulfur and nitrogen emissions from coal-fired power plants, but it was defeated in court. And President Obama delayed EPA’s rules on smog standards, which would have limited ground-level ozone pollution from automobiles, power plants, and refineries.
Read the fact sheet: