NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Coming Battle Over New Clean-Air Rules

February 2, 1999

The Environmental Protection Agency will soon propose sweeping new rules that will govern how cleanly autos run and what kind of fuel goes into them. The prospect has auto manufacturers and oil firms squaring off against one another.

Here are the main issues:

  • Auto makers fear that if trucks and sport utility vehicles are required to meet the same tough tailpipe standards set for cars, they will face massive expenses to clean up their best-selling large vehicles.
  • Auto makers want extra-clean gasoline, but oil companies favor a gradual approach in this area -- starting out with different rules for different parts of the country.
  • Auto companies are afraid the EPA will follow California's lead and pass rules that essentially ban diesels -- which are often more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines.
  • Oil companies warn that cleaning up gasoline further could boost prices at the pump and hurt small refineries if they are not given time to modernize.

They even predict that tough new rules could affect the supply of gasoline.

Observers say that if state environmental officials don't think the EPA goes far enough in its rules, the states could create their own patchwork of fuel and emissions regulations. Several western governors have protested the idea of higher gasoline costs that would help mostly eastern cities.

Source: Anna Wilde Mathews, "Auto Makers and Oil Firms Are Fighting Again as EPA Prepares New Rules to Clean Up the Air," Wall Street Journal, February 2, 1999.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues