The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new proposal that would sharply cut gasoline and tailpipe emissions, a move that would essentially mandate California’s stricter air-quality laws in all 50 states.
But, according to a report by MSN, while the ruling would promote cleaner air, it would also cause the prices of gas and new cars to increase.
The EPA estimates that under the proposed rule, which calls for the reduction of sulfur in gasoline and stricter car-emission standards scheduled to start in 2017, gas prices would rise by less than a penny per gallon and tack $130 onto the cost of a new vehicle by 2025. The payoff for these changes, according to the EPA, is billions of dollars in reduced health costs by 2030.
But the oil industry, Republicans and even some Democrats are urging the EPA to delay the rule because of these higher costs, which would be passed on to consumers.
An American Petroleum Institute study estimated that lowering the sulfur in gasoline would add 6 to 9 cents per gallon to manufacturing costs for oil refineries. “I haven’t seen an EPA rule on fuels that has come out since 1995 that hasn’t said it would cost only a penny or two more,” Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, told The Associated Press. Drevna added that the energy required for the additional refining under the new rule could actually increase carbon pollution by 1% to 2%.
By expanding a standard already in place in California and 13 other states, the new EPA rule would reduce sulfur in gasoline by more than 60% and nitrogen oxides by 80%. The regulation would also allow automakers to sell the same versions of a vehicle in all 50 states and make it easier for states to comply with federal standards for smog and soot.
Environmentalists say the proposal is potentially the most important of President Barack Obama’s second term. It also comes on the heels of the administration’s new CAFE rules, which will require automakers to meet a fleet average of 54.5 mpg by 2025 for passenger cars.
Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, estimated that the amount of pollution reduced by the rule would be equal to taking 33 million cars off the road. “We know of no other air-pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emission reductions,” he said.
The federal government has a screaming deal for automakers that have struggled to find a market for electric vehicles: Two for the price of one.
Automotive News reported that in 2017 through 2019 model years, regulators will count each EV produced as two when calculating whether automakers are meeting new fuel-economy standards for light vehicles.
The standards, finalized in August after a year of discussion, have a simple-sounding goal: cut fuel consumption and emissions. But the rules — at 1,994 pages and more than half a million words, they are roughly the length of War and Peace — are anything but straight- forward, filled with little-known peculiarities and fine print added to help get automakers on board.
Each automaker’s vehicle fleet ultimately will have to average at least 54.5 mpg — unless gasoline prices drastically change, new technologies emerge, consumers behave differently or any other assumptions that the government made while drafting the rules turn out to be way off. On top of that, the 54.5 mpg figure is based on strict federal testing criteria, with real-world fuel economy expected to be around 40 mpg.
And, five years from now, the government could decide that the standards are too difficult or costly and change the game again.
“This is a very confusing rule,” says Sandy Stojkovski, president of Scenaria Inc., a consulting firm that is helping manufacturers prepare for the new standards. “There’s a lot of complexity involved with this.”
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