Monday, October 31, 2011

Clean Air Agencies Call For Lowering Gas Sulfur Content

Oct 31: The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), representing air pollution control agencies in 53 states and territories and over 165 major metropolitan areas across the United States(formerly STAPPA and ALAPCO), released a report on the benefits and costs of implementing the association's recommendations for Tier 3 motor vehicle and gasoline standards as outlined in a June 27, 2011 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. In the report, Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air: The Need for and Benefits of Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Regulations, NACAA indicates that the amount of air pollution that would be immediately reduced from lowering the sulfur content of gasoline to an average of 10-ppm is equivalent to removing approximately one in eight cars and light trucks from the roads. This result would come at a price of $0.008 – eight-tenths of a cent per gallon. Such cleaner gasoline would also enable improved technologies on cars and light trucks that could yield substantial vehicle emissions reductions at a cost of about $150 per car.
    S. William Becker, NACAA's Executive Director said, "As NACAA's report reveals, reducing sulfur in gasoline would not only enable the use of improved emissions control technology on new cars and light trucks, it would also result in an overnight reduction in emissions from the existing fleet -- on the order of approximately 260,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) -- equivalent to taking 33 million cars off our nation's roads in 2017 when the program begins. I don't know of any other air pollution control strategy out there that can provide emissions reductions as significant and immediate as this."
    NACAA also found that the additional cost to consumers of the cleaner gasoline would be less than a penny a gallon, and the additional cost of a cleaner 'Tier 3' vehicle would be similarly low, at about $150. By 2030, the Tier 3 program recommended by NACAA would cut emissions of NOx, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide by about 29, 38 and 26 percent, respectively. The report is intended to inform the U.S. EPA effort to develop tougher Federal vehicle and fuel standards that will reduce emissions into the air and lead to cleaner, more healthful air.
    In June, NACAA recommended that EPA adopt a Tier 3 program that includes vehicle emissions standards consistent with California's Low-Emission Vehicle III (LEV III) program and an average gasoline sulfur content of 10 parts per million. NACAA indicated that as state and local air agencies face, or prepare to face, the challenge of attaining the health-based standards for ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, and continue to grapple with ubiquitous toxic air pollution, an effective program to tackle emissions from cars and light trucks -- which are key contributors to all of these problems -- is critical. NACAA, therefore, continues to urge that EPA take full advantage of the opportunity to establish a meaningful and effective Tier 3 program to help states and localities meet their clean air obligations. The Agency is expected to propose the so-called "Tier 3" program by the end of this year.
    The report indicates, "Although motor vehicle emissions have improved dramatically since the federal mobile source program was introduced in 1968, they remain a primary source of the volatile organic compound (VOC) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that result in the formation of ozone. Accordingly, if we are to achieve and sustain healthful air quality across the country, we must further control motor vehicle emissions and fuels. . . Fortunately, additional controls are available at very modest cost. EPA is expected to introduce, later this year, a 'Tier 3' program of tougher light-duty vehicle emissions standards that follow closely the Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) III requirements being pursued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). A critical piece of this program, and one that will ensure cost-effective implementation of these stricter standards, is further improved gasoline quality, particularly a reduction in average gasoline sulfur levels from approximately 30 parts per million (ppm) today, enacted as part of the 1999 Tier 2 program, to an average of 10 ppm. . . In short, EPA should take full advantage of the opportunity to establish a meaningful and effective Tier 3 program – including vehicle and fuel standards – to ensure that states and localities across the nation, which face increasing air quality challenges, can meet their statutory obligations."
    Access a release from NACAA (click here). Access the complete 32-page report (click here). Access the June 27, letter to EPA (click here). [#Air, #Transport]

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