EPA today finalized its new emission standards that "will reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles," that are aimed at reducing pollution, improving efficiency in vehicles and preventing "thousands of premature deaths and illnesses." EPA's actions on this front were in response to a presidential memorandum request issued in May 2010.
The final fuel standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm beginning in 2017. The new standards also include a new requirement for tailpipe emissions. While phase-in schedules will vary by vehicle class, they will generally be phased in for model years 2017 to 2025.
EPA has built in some flexibility for compliance. "The fuel sulfur standards include an averaging, banking and trading (ABT) program that will "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 finalizing flexibilities such as the ability to carry over credits from Tier 2 to Tier 3 and 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," EPA's factsheet on the standards notes.
According to EPA, the final standards are expected to provide $13 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards. The agency also notes in a press release, "The sulfur standards will cost less than a penny per gallon of gasoline on average once the standards are fully in place. The vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $72 per vehicle in 2025."
By contrast, the American Petroleum Institute says the new Tier 3 rule "requiring the last bits of sulfur to be removed from gasoline will unnecessarily raise costs and actually increase CO2 emissions at U.S. refineries because of the energy-intensive hydro treating equipment needed to meet the new standard."
API's Downstream Group Director Bob Greco says the rule's biggest impact is "to increase the cost of delivering energy to Americans, making it a threat to consumers, jobs, and the economy," while providing "negligible, if any, environmental benefits."
Learn more about the standards.