On March 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it plans to enact a new rule that will impose stricter vehicle emission standards, in an effort to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks. The rule has been dubbed Tier 3, and will go into effect on January, 2017. The EPA hopes that the new emission standards will help cut tailpipe emissions, which are a huge threat to people’s health, causing numerous serious diseases, such as bronchitis, emphysema, hearth diseases, and asthma, among others. The EPA says that the Tier 3 program is harmonized with California’s vehicle emission standards.
Under the new rule, oil refineries in the United States will have to lower sulfur content in gasoline, which is the main factor that increases harmful exhaust emissions, as it prevents combustion systems’ emission control equipment from doing its job properly. Refineries will be required to install new equipment that removes sulfur from gasoline, and automakers will have to develop engine technology that burns fuel more efficiency and controls emissions much better. This is exactly why the petroleum industry is against this rule, as refineries will be forced to spend billions of dollars to purchase new equipment or modify the existing equipment, which would ultimately affect consumers, since it would raise gas prices and make cars more expensive. Another reason why refineries don’t agree with this rule is that they feel that the EPA doesn’t give them enough time to prepare and meet the new standards, as they will only have six years to do it.
Sulfur content in gasoline should be cut by 60 percent, while the amount of nitrogen oxide will be reduced by as much as 80 percent, according to the EPA. Carbon monoxide and other compounds that contribute to the creation of smog will also be cut, which is supposed to improve air quality considerably.
The American Petroleum Institute claims that the Tier 3 vehicle emission standards will cost the petroleum industry $10 billion, and hike gasoline prices by up to 9 cents a gallon. But, the EPA says that the Tier 3 program will only raise gas prices by a penny per gallon, and increase vehicles’ sticker price by about $75. Additionally, this rule is expected to have a very positive impact on the nation’s economy, as it’s supposed to reduce health-care costs by $19 billion by 2030.
What’s more, the agency estimates that about 2,000 premature deaths, 2,200 hospital admissions, 19,000 asthma attacks, 30,000 cases of symptoms of respiratory symptoms in children, and 1.4 million lost school and work days a year will be prevented with these tougher emission standards.
While the new regulations were not received with delight by the oil and gas industry, claiming that they are pretty costly and environmental benefits they are supposed to provide will be negligible, they were praised by some car makers, including Ford Motors and Honda, saying that they applaud the government’s efforts to improve air quality by reducing sulfur content in gasoline.