Friday, February 09, 2007

EPA Signs Mobile Source Air Toxic Regs

Feb 9: U.S. EPA says that toxic fumes from gasoline, vehicles and fuel containers will decrease significantly, further reducing health risks under tough new standards signed by Administrator Stephen Johnson. By 2030, EPA's new Mobile Source Air Toxic (MSAT) regulations and fuel and vehicle standards already in place will reduce toxic emissions from cars to 80 percent below 1999 emissions. The MSAT rule toughens benzene standards for gasoline, sets hydrocarbon emissions standards for cars at cold temperatures and tightens fuel containers to prevent the evaporation of harmful fumes.

Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene. EPA estimates annual health benefits from the particulate matter reductions of the vehicle standards to total $6 billion in 2030. The estimated annual cost for the entire rule is about $400 million in 2030. The new MSAT standards will take effect in 2011 for gasoline, 2010 for cars, and 2009 for fuel containers.

Under the fuel program, EPA is requiring that, beginning in 2011, refiners must meet an annual average gasoline benzene content standard of 0.62 percent by volume (vol%) on all their gasoline, both reformulated and conventional, nationwide. The national benzene content of gasoline today is about 1.0 vol%. Under the vehicle program EPA is adopting new standards to reduce non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) exhaust emissions from new gasoline-fueled passenger vehicles. Under the fuel container program EPA is establishing standards that will limit hydrocarbon emissions that evaporate from or permeate through portable fuel containers such as gas cans. Starting with containers manufactured in 2009, the standard limits evaporation and permeation emissions from these containers to 0.3 grams of hydrocarbons per gallon per day.

Environmental groups including Earthjustice, U.S. PIRG and Sierra Club reacted to the rule with concerns about a controversial credit trading provision. Emily Figdor of U.S. PIRG said, "The good news is that today's rule is expected to limit benzene levels nationwide, which should make the air safer in many places. The bad news is that EPA will allow benzene trading. That means some refineries won't reduce the benzene content of their gasoline, and may even increase it. Having benzene levels go down in Newark, New Jersey won't do much for the health of people in Portland, Oregon." Marti Sinclair of Sierra Club said, "We're happy that EPA has addressed this important public health issue at last. Even if it did take a federal court case to make the agency act. But it is disappointing that EPA would undermine its own program by adopting this dangerous trading scheme." Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew said, "Refineries have the know-how to reduce benzene emissions to RFG levels throughout the country. We know that the cancer risk from benzene is unacceptable in virtually every American city. Given that we can reduce the risk levels for all Americans, you have to wonder why EPA would choose not to do it."

Access an EPA release (
click here). Access links to a pre-publication copy of the final rule, a fact sheet, a Summary and Analysis of Comments and the entire Regulatory Impact Analysis (click here). Access the EPA Docket ID -- EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0036 -- using the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) (click here). To access the docket, which contains supporting and related information, or for viewing comments, click on "Advanced Search"; then "Docket Search" and paste in the Docket ID and click on Submit. Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). [*Air]