The rules unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency will cut
sulfur levels in gasoline by more than 60 percent and will be phased
in between 2017 and 2025.
Health advocates praised the move, while a petroleum refiners' group
called the compliance schedule unrealistic and warned that these
regulations and others would eventually raise gasoline prices
throughout the country.
"By reducing these pollutants and making our air healthier, we will
bring relief to those suffering from asthma, other lung diseases and
cardiovascular disease, and to the nation as a whole," said Dr.
Albert Rizzo, former chairman of the American Lung Association.
Once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,000
premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments
in children while adding only an average of 1 cent per gallon to the
cost of gasoline, the agency estimated.
Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical
Manufacturers, rejected the agency's cost estimate.
"We are rapidly approaching California gasoline as the nationwide
fuel," Drevna said at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.
Retail gasoline prices in California are generally the most
expensive in the continental United States due to strict
environmental rules and other factors.
The EPA said the sulfur rules include a program to help refiners and
importers meet the new standard, and gives smaller refiners more
time to comply.
The standards are an attempt to cut the sulfur content of gasoline
to 10 parts per million from 30 ppm currently.
Automakers worked with the EPA to craft the rules and generally
welcomed the national standard for gasoline.
QUESTIONS ABOUT COST
The EPA and the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying group for
the U.S. energy industry, sparred over the potential health benefits
and costs of the rules.
The EPA estimated that the final standards would provide up to $13
in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards.
The standards will have an average cost of about $72 per vehicle in
2025, the agency said.
[to top of second column]
But the API said the new rules would result in negligible health
benefits and undue costs.
"This rule's biggest impact is to increase the cost of delivering
energy to Americans, making it a threat to consumers, jobs and the
economy," said Bob Greco, director of the API'S Downstream Group.
The organization estimates the rules would increase gasoline prices
by 6 cents to 9 cents per gallon.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call
that the benefits far outweighed the costs.
"The estimate that API and others are relying on is an outdated
estimate of what they thought we would be proposing," she said.
Nor did they account for the compliance flexibilities the EPA added
to the rule before the final release, she added.
"People will see immediate benefits in 2017," she said, and the
estimated cost of under a penny per gallon of gasoline would not
take effect until 2025, when the rule is fully in place.
Frank O'Donnell, president of nonprofit group Clean Air Watch, said
Monday's rule was "the most significant move to protect public
health that the EPA will make this year" and that the oil industry's
fears about costs were often overblown.
"Let's remember the oil industry has cried wolf so many times,"
O'Donnell said, "and it's doing it again here."
(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe in Houston;
editing by Ros
Krasny, David Gregorio, Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.