NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Critics Challenge Tier 2 Standards

April 13, 2001

In December 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued tighter Tier 2 standards for emissions from passenger cars and light trucks, including the heavier Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and limiting the sulfur content of gasoline. The regulations are designed to reduce ozone levels over the next decade sufficiently to meet higher National Ambient Air Quality Standards required by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

But regulatory analysts critical of the standards say evidence from the EPA's own analysis shows they will not significantly improve air quality or public health nationwide, and that they may actually cause air quality to deteriorate in some parts of the nation.

  • Without the EPA's new initiatives, ozone concentrations have declined by at least 30 percent since 1978.
  • Most of the country is now able to attain the standards for ozone, and by 2010, when the Tier 2 regulations would begin to affect air quality, the EPA predicts that only a handful of areas would be out of compliance without the rules.
  • The EPA has offered no evidence that implementing the Tier 2 rules will bring about compliance in the remaining nonattainment areas, but its modeling does suggest that air quality in some areas of the country will actually deteriorate because of the new restrictions.
  • For instance, EPA modeling predicts the process of removing sulfur from gasoline will increase carbon dioxide emissions by 6.9 million tons per year.

The EPA's own analysis shows the regulations will be costly -- roughly $3.5 billion per year -- with the western states being hit hardest by the fuel sulfur requirements.

Source: Susan E. Dudley (Mercatus Center, George Mason University), "A Fuel and Your Money: EPA's New Tier 2 Standards," Regulation, Number 3, 2000, Cato Institute.

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