EPA Delays Finalizing Tier 3 Fuel Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration delayed finalizing a plan to reduce smog-forming emissions from vehicles.

Known as "Tier 3" standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal was unveiled in March and is intended to reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent -- down to 10 parts per million in 2017. According to the EPA, reducing sulfur can provide "significant and immediate benefits by reducing emissions from every gas-powered vehicle on the road."

The Obama administration was set to finalize Tier 3 standards by the end of this year. Now, the timeline for a final rule has been pushed back to February due to a massive number of public comments, according to a report by FuelFix.

"EPA received more than 200,000 public comments on the proposal," the agency said. "Due to the extensive input we received and the need for thorough analysis of available data, EPA currently intends to issue the final rule in February 2014."

Public advocates have backed Tier 3 standards as a great way to reduce smog and respiratory illnesses that pollution causes. The EPA states that reduced standards could prevent as many as 2,400 premature American deaths per year and 23,000 respiratory ailments in children.

However, oil companies have countered that the health benefits of reducing sulfur are unproven, and gas prices could rise by at least 9 cents per gallon as a result of implementing these new standards.

It is unknown whether the new timeline will cause the EPA to delay when Tier 3 standards must go into effect.

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