Donate

Science

EPA Proposes Cleaner Gas Regulations

Enlarge
Ordinary Grace/Flickr

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new “common-sense cleaner fuels and cars standards” on Friday, to reduce air pollution and related health problems.
 
While the tighter regulations would likely lead to an increase in gasoline prices for cars and trucks, the EPA estimates its proposal would provide seven dollars in health benefits for every dollar spent on meeting the new standards.
 
“The Obama Administration has taken a series of steps to reinvigorate the auto industry and ensure that the cars of tomorrow are cleaner, more efficient and saving drivers money at the pump,” EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in a statement. “Today’s proposed standards – which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable – are the next step in our work to protect public health.”
 
The proposal would cut the amount of sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds, reducing sulfur levels to 10 parts per million, compared to the current national standard of 30 parts per million. The reduction will cost refiners less than a penny per gallon and will allow vehicles to run cleaner and more efficiently, the EPA said.
 
The proposal would also slash emissions from cars and trucks, cutting smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, soot by 70 percent and benzene by 40 percent.
 
The EPA estimates that when the rules are fully in place, they can help prevent 2,400 premature deaths and 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children. The health benefits are valued between $8 and $23 billion per year.
 
The EPA’s proposal follows California’s lead in adopting clean car and fuel programs. California has had clean fuel requirements on the books since the 1990s and tailpipe emission standards since 2011, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.
 
“California has been the pioneer," Young said. "Now the federal government under the Obama administration decided that they want to work together with California to have the same tough stringent rules that California has so that all Americans can breathe cleaner air. I think this is a great day for clean air in America."
 
With consistent standards in all 50 states, the automotive industry will be able to sell the same car models anywhere in the country.
 
If approved, the standards would take effect in 2017 – the same model year the next phase of the EPA’s national program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks takes effect.
 
The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and natural gas trade association, said the regulations would raise the price of gasoline without providing much environmental benefit.
 
“There is a tsunami of federal regulations coming out of the EPA that could put upward pressure on gasoline prices,” said Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute in a statement. “Consumers care about the price of fuel, and our government should not be adding unnecessary regulations that raise manufacturing costs, especially when there are no proven environmental benefits.”
 
The American Petroluem Institute said the proposed rules would raise the price of gasoline by 2 to 9 cents a gallon.
 
Young said Cailfornia’s clean fuel requirements raised the price of gas between 2 and 5 cents per gallon.
Become a KQED sponsor

Follow KQED News on Facebook

Follow KQED News on Twitter

For the latest updates from KQED News, follow us on Twitter.