Phila. to host EPA hearing on emissions

Posted: April 25, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans a hearing Wednesday in Philadelphia on an Obama administration proposal to clean up gasoline and automobile emissions, one of only two public sessions nationwide on the so-called Tier 3 standards.

The rules, which mandate cleaner fuels and some new vehicle technologies, are aimed at reducing soot, sulfur, and nitrogen oxide emissions.

"We're looking at automobiles and fuels as a system," said Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

The EPA says the modifications will add a penny a gallon to the cost of making gasoline beginning in 2017 and $130 to the cost of a vehicle by 2025.

But a study done on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute estimates the rule could increase gasoline prices by six to nine cents per gallon. Conservative advocacy groups say the new rules will unduly burden consumers.

The government says reducing the sulfur content of fuel will prolong the life of engine components, including catalytic converters. But the big benefit is cleaner air and improved public health.

By 2030, the EPA estimates, the reductions will prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths a year, 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children, and 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency-room visits.

Ethanol producers, environmentalists, autoworkers, and manufacturers support the regulations. By adopting standards now in place in California, the rules would free automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states.

The new standards are an update to the Tier 2 fuel-emission regulations released in 2000. The EPA's first set of rules was established under the Clean Air Act of 1990.

The revised standards would reduce sulfur in gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 p.p.m. - it was 300 p.p.m. before the last round of emissions updates. They would reduce nitrogen oxides by 80 percent and particulate matter, or soot, by 70 percent.

The government says only 16 of the nation's 111 refineries would need major equipment upgrades to meet the new standards. Sixty-six others would require "modest" levels of investment, Grundler said.

The Philadelphia hearing is set for 10 a.m. at the Sonesta Hotel, 1800 Market St. A second hearing is set for Monday in Chicago.

Public comments must be submitted by June 13. More information on proposed rules and submitting comments is at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/tier3.htm.


Contact Andrew Maykuth

at 215-854-2947, amaykuth@phillynews.com,

or on Twitter @Maykuth.

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