Senator David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, led five Senators in a bipartisan letter urging President Obama not to move forward with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal for Tier 3 regulations addressing the sulfur content in gasoline, and called into question the need for Tier 3. These new regulations are discretionary, not mandated, and EPA has yet to demonstrate a need for new, stricter standards.
"The EPA again seeks to advance a political agenda, disregarding the facts and potential economic costs. The price of gasoline at the pump spiked upwards in the last few weeks, and EPA’s Tier 3 proposal - if implemented - could drive prices up even further without explanation,” said Vitter.“We’re asking President Obama to put EPA’s proposed Tier 3 regulations back on the shelf to avoid the negative consequences of Tier 3, including importing more foreign energy, increasing our trade deficit, and reducing our energy security.”
In the letter, Vitter and his colleagues assert that EPA’s proposed Tier 3 regulations are not based on well-established evidence showing how the proposed sulfur reduction would benefit health. The Administration’s earlier Tier 2 rulemaking already reduced sulfur in gasoline by 90%, from an average of 300ppm to 30ppm. EPA argues the Tier 3 proposal is necessary to meet other air pollution standards; however, these standards need to be met prior to the implementation of the Tier 3 proposal. Thus far, while EPA seeks to move forward with the proposal, the Agency has yet to provide a scientific demonstration of health benefits and a thorough analysis of economic impacts.
The Senators signing the letter are: David Vitter (R-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
TheEnvironmental Defense Fund (EDF) said it is deeply disappointed in a new letter from five U.S. senators asking the President to stop a proposal to update passenger vehicle emissions and fuel standards (commonly referred to as Tier 3) before the American public has even had an opportunity to see and comment on the proposal.
"We think the senators are just wrong on this one,” said EDF’s Mark MacLeod. “These new standards -- supported by both the auto industry and the American Lung Association -- will cut smog, soot, and other dangerous pollutants at a low cost. It’s time to move forward with this rule to protect the health of all Americans, especially children, the elderly, and those with asthma.”
Contrary to the senators’ letter, the health benefits of Tier 3 are well understood. More than one in three Americans lives in an area where air pollutant levels exceed at least one of the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Also, passenger vehicles remain the second largest emitters of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the U.S.; those are the primary pollutants that form ozone. Passenger vehicles also emit more than half of all carbon monoxide pollution, and contribute significantly to lethal particulate matter emissions.
According to a National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) study, updating the standards for passenger vehicles has the potential to cut motor vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds by 29, 38 and 26 percent respectively.
Updating our national standards for fuel and vehicles would establish a harmonized national market for cars and small trucks. Timely finalization of the standards would allow manufacturers to efficiently align technology upgrades with the landmark fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks that have already been adopted. Furthermore, once American manufacturers tool up to meet U.S. standards, we can turn to exporting our products around the world.