New EPA Rules Won't Help Environment, May Raise Gas Prices, Industry Says

Matt Cover | April 5, 2013 | 5:40am EDT
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New EPA rules call for the near elimination of sulfur from gasoline used in cars and light-duty trucks, cutting it from 30 parts-per-million (ppm) to 10 ppm by 2017. (AP Photo)

( - New regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at eliminating sulfur emissions from cars and light trucks would have little benefit for the environment and could raise gas prices, according to a study produced for the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Conducted by the energy consulting firm Environ International, the study finds that EPA’s new rule would have little impact on the environment.

“Simply put, as proposed, the Tier 3 regulation will impose significant costs on making gasoline.  And a study we commissioned by the environmental consulting group Environ concludes that ozone benefits touted by EPA would be only marginal at best,” API Group Director for Downstream and Industry Operations Bob Greco said on a conference call Thursday.

The regulations – published March 29 – call for the near elimination of sulfur from gasoline used in cars and light-duty trucks, cutting it from 30 parts-per-million (ppm) to 10 ppm by 2017.

EPA claims that the new standards, known as Tier 3, would save lives and clean up the environment.

“Over 158 million Americans are currently experiencing unhealthy levels of air pollution which are linked with adverse health impacts such as hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and premature mortality,” EPA said in its regulatory announcement.

“By 2030, the Tier 3 standards would annually prevent: Between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths; 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits; 22,000 asthma exacerbations; 23,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms in children; 1.8 million lost school days, work days and minor-restricted activities.”

API, which represents all sectors of the petroleum industry, disputes EPA’s claims of environmental benefits, saying that because the reduction in sulfur content is so low, the environmental benefits will be few and the cost could be high.

“EPA’s new Tier 3 gasoline proposal is a prime example of what happens when regulators ignore facts and hard science,” Greco said Thursday.

The Environ study modeled the effect on the atmosphere from the EPA’s 10 ppm sulfur standard, which it called LEV [Low-Emission Vehicle] III, finding very little positive impact even during summertime, when air pollution is at its worst.

“[N]ationwide implementation of more stringent LDV [light duty vehicle] emissions standards similar to LEV along with further reductions in gasoline sulfur content would yield only very small additional improvements in 2022 summertime ozone concentrations,” the study found.

In other words, the study found that overall there would be only a 0.7 percent reduction in peak air pollution from implementing the stricter sulfur standards.

API said that if EPA further strengthens regulations – adding a proposed vapor pressure reduction requirement – it could result in as much as a $0.25 per gallon increase in the cost of gasoline. Vapor pressure determines the volatility of gasoline and is regulated to control how quickly it evaporates to control emissions.

API’s Greco said that Americans should not have to bear the cost of EPA’s poorly-designed regulations, no matter how well intentioned they might be.

“Americans shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of EPA regulations that lack a basis in science and will, at best, yield negligible environmental benefits,” he said. “These rules typify a troubling disconnect between EPA’s regulatory agenda and the everyday reality of America’s energy consumers.”

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