Environmental Protection Agency Prepares Stricter Gasoline Rule

March 3, 2014

Advocacy groups are pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize a standard to limit the amount of sulfur in gasoline, says the Washington Examiner.

The sulfur standard is called Tier 3, and the current EPA proposal -- which would limit the amount of sulfur in gasoline to 10 parts per million -- is intended to clear up the smog that the current sulfur standards have not eliminated.

While House Democrats insist that the standards, which would take effect in January 2017, would only increase gasoline costs by 1 cent per gallon and add only $150 to the cost of a new car. But oil companies and Republicans say that the industry needs more time to comply with the rule. Patrick Kelly, a senior policy adviser with the American Petroleum Institute, said, "In a rule of this magnitude, EPA has always allowed for up to four years of lead time."

The proposed standard is not as simply as proponents might indicate. While the EPA has touted the Tier 3 standard as preventing up to 2,400 premature deaths and providing up to $23 billion in yearly health benefits by 2030, industry actors say that the rule will cause serious problems.

  • The required adjustments cannot be made without shutting down refining facilities and maintenance shutdowns are only scheduled every five years.
  • According to Brendan Williams, senior vice president of advocacy with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, some refineries will have to shut down operations altogether, outside of the maintenance schedule, in order to upgrade their facilities.
  • This would cut off gasoline supplies and send gas prices rising.

Those in favor of the standards see the benefits as outweighing any shutdown costs. Automakers, which have been producing vehicles to run on gasoline with low sulfur content, are in favor of the standards.

Source: Zack Colman, "Pressure Intensifies as White House Prepares Stricter Gasoline Rule," Washington Examiner, February 20, 2014.

 

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