Friday, March 29, 2013

EPA Proposes Major Tier 3 Low Sulfur Air Rules

Mar 29: U.S. EPA released what it called "proposed sensible standards for cars and gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution, prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling efficiency improvements in the cars and trucks we drive." EPA said the proposed regulations were based on extensive input from auto manufactures, refiners, and states. Starting in 2017, the new Tier 3 rules would set new vehicle emissions standards and lower the sulfur content of gasoline. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be available for public comment and EPA will hold public hearings to receive further public input.
    Additionally, the Agency said the "cleaner fuels and cars standards" are an important component of the Administration's national program for clean cars and trucks, which also include "historic fuel efficiency standards that are saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump today. Once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,400 premature deaths per year and 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children."

    In a release, EPA said that following a proven systems approach that addresses vehicles and fuels as an integrated system, the 885-page proposed rules will enable the greatest pollution reductions at the lowest cost. The proposal will "slash emissions of a range of harmful pollutants that can cause premature death and respiratory illnesses," including reducing smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, establish a 70 percent tighter particulate matter standard, and reduce fuel vapor emissions to near zero. The proposal will also reduce vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene, by up to 40 percent.

    EPA indicated that the proposal supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said, "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 and these common-sense cleaner fuels and cars standards are another example of how we can protect the environment and public health in an affordable and practical way. 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 and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states.

    By 2030, EPA estimates that the total health-related benefits in 2030 will be between $8 and $23 billion annually. The program would also reduce exposure to pollution near roads. More than 50 million people live, work, or go to school in close proximity to high-traffic roadways, and the average American spends more than one hour traveling along roads each day. EPA's proposal is estimated to provide up to seven dollars in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards. The proposed sulfur standards will cost refineries less than a penny per gallon of gasoline on average once the standards are fully in place. The proposed vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $130 per vehicle in 2025. The proposal also includes flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance.

    The proposed standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent -- down to 10 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Reducing sulfur in gasoline enables vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently. This means that vehicles built prior to the proposed standards will run cleaner on the new low-sulfur gas, providing significant and immediate benefits by reducing emissions from every gas-powered vehicle on the road.

    EPA said the proposed standards will work together with California's clean cars and fuels program to create a harmonized nationwide vehicle emissions program that enables automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The proposal is designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as the next phase of EPA's national program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks beginning in model year 2017. Together, the Federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxics from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty and streamlining compliance.
    The proposed fuel sulfur standards include an averaging, banking, and trading (ABT) program that would allow refiners and importers to spread out their investments through an early credit program and rely on ongoing nationwide averaging to meet the sulfur standard. EPA is also proposing flexibilities such as hardship provisions for extenuating circumstances, as well as flexibility provisions for small businesses (small manufacturers of Tier 3 vehicles and small refiners), small volume manufacturers, and small volume refineries.
    In response to proposed new "Tier 3" standards for clean fuels and cars, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers released a statement saying, "Automakers have already reduced vehicle emissions by 99%, and we're working to go further while also delivering high quality, affordable vehicles to our customers. Our goal is a rule that harmonizes with California's Low Emission Vehicle (LEV III) program finalized in 2012. Eliminating differing timelines, regulatory procedures and test methods at the federal and state levels will help reduce emissions and avoid extra costs to consumers. For future progress, our advanced emission-control technologies that are necessary to meet the challenging 2017-2025 greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards will require cleaner, low-sulfur fuels similar to those available today in Europe and Asia." [See WIMS 3/27/13].
    The Alliance represents 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, including the BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America.
    House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented on the proposal saying, "Increases in gas prices disproportionately hurt the nation's most vulnerable individuals and families -- with $4 dollar a gallon gas the norm in many parts of the country, we cannot afford policies that knowingly raises gas prices. Instead of raising gas prices, the Obama administration should focus on bringing stability and greater supplies to our energy markets by green-lighting projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry approximately one million barrels per day of oil from a close ally to the United States."

    Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee said, "The Obama administration cannot be more out of touch. With hard-pressed families already struggling to afford each fill-up, Congress needs to take a hard look at any new EPA regulation that may raise the price at the pump. We will review this new proposal to make sure that it delivers air quality benefits at the least cost to the driving public while preserving auto and refining industry jobs. This is just another example of an overzealous EPA." Last year, the House passed H.R.4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which would have deferred the finalization of Tier 3 pending an inter-agency analysis of its impact, along with other pending regulations, on energy prices, jobs, and American competitiveness.

    E&C Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a statement saying, "This proposal makes sense and should be finalized as soon as possible. When we clean up the fuel supply, our air gets cleaner and lives are saved.  This proposal will also allow the automakers to bring innovative technology to market, creating jobs, saving consumers money, and keeping the U.S. on the leading edge of global manufacturing."  

    The American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a statement saying EPA's proposed Tier 3 fuel regulations "could raise refiners' costs, provide little or no environmental benefit, and actually increase carbon emissions." API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco said, "There is a tsunami of federal regulations coming out of the EPA that could put upward pressure on gasoline prices. EPA's proposed fuel regulations are the latest example. 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. We should not pile on new regulations when existing regulations are working."

    API indicated in a release that, "EPA's Tier 3 proposal would increase the cost of gasoline production by up to nine cents per gallon, according to
an analysis by energy consulting firm Baker & O'Brien. If EPA adds a vapor pressure reduction requirement in a separate regulation, it would push the cost increase up to 25 cents a gallon, according to Baker & O'Brien. Separately, gasoline costs would also rise 30 percent by 2015 unless changes are made to federal ethanol mandates, according to a newly-released study by NERA Economic Consulting. Greco also cited EPA's upcoming proposal for new ozone standards that could further increase manufacturing costs."
    Greco said, "Implementing the new requirements would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions because of the energy-intensive equipment required to comply. We urge the administration to bring common sense back into the regulatory process. Unnecessary regulations just mean higher costs and lost jobs."
    The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), formerly the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association indicated it was concerned about EPA's proposal to require further reductions in sulfur levels in gasoline. AFPM President Charles Drevna said, "While we haven't had the opportunity to review the report, EPA's decision to move forward with Tier 3's gasoline sulfur reduction program is completely without merit given that the Agency has not previously offered any cost/benefit analysis to justify this onerous rulemaking. The Agency's failure until today to provide any information on the need for this discretionary rule, despite repeated requests from American fuel manufacturers, strongly suggests the lack of a credible case." 
    Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) praised the long-awaited proposal of updated standards to reduce soot, smog and other dangerous types of tailpipe pollution from cars and light trucks. EDF's Mark MacLeod said, "The new Tier 3 standards will make our cars cleaner, and that means we'll have cleaner air to breathe. Reducing tailpipe pollution will provide healthier, longer lives for millions of Americans for less than a penny per gallon of gas. That's why updating the standards has such broad support from U.S. auto makers, state health commissioners, and health advocates."  Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "These common-sense standards will save lives, save money and clean up our air -- all at a minimal cost. Big Oil companies want us to believe these benefits aren't worth it. But that's because they care about profits above all else."
    The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a statement saying, "The proposal enjoys support from a broad range of industry and advocacy groups while the oil industry alone fights to block these important steps to protect public health. The oil industry stands alone in opposition to the new rules, while a plethora of health, consumer, labor, manufacturer, scientific and environmental groups support these standards." Michelle Robinson, director of UCS's Clean Vehicles program said, "The path from a car's tailpipe to our lungs is surprisingly short, and more than 1 in 3 Americans live in areas where air pollution levels exceed at least one federal limit. Today's proposal is a common-sense step that will protect our health while growing our economy. This is a stellar encore to the fuel efficiency main act. Together, these standards represent the largest step in our nation's history toward reducing harmful emissions from the vehicles we drive every day. The chorus of support for these new standards is as widespread as it is unprecedented. Obviously, oil companies work for their own best interests, but when it comes to Tier 3, it's only a solo act."
    Access a release from EPA (click here). Access EPA's "Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards Program" website for complete details including summaries, the complete prepublication Federal Register announcement, regulatory impact analysis, technical support documents and more (click here). Access the statement from the Alliance (click here). Access a release from the House E&C Committee Republicans (click here). Access a release from the House E&C Committee Democrats (click here).Access the API statement with links to the cited studies (click here). Access a release from AFPM (click here). Access a release from EDF (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from UCS (click here). [#Air, #Climate, #Energy #Transport]
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