EPA Unveils Long-Awaited Tier 3 Fuel Standards

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EPA Unveils Long-Awaited Tier 3 Fuel Standards


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed a plan to reduce smog-forming emissions from vehicles.

Known as "Tier 3" standards, the EPA proposal 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 proposed standards will also work together with California’s clean cars and fuels program, thereby allowing automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states.

"The Obama Administration has taken a series of steps to reinvigorate the auto industry and ensure that the cars of tomorrow are cleaner, more efficient and saving drivers money at the pump, and these common-sense cleaner fuels and cars standards are another example of how we can protect the environment and public health in an affordable and practical way," said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

"Today’s proposed standards – which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable -- are the next step in our work to protect public health and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states," he concluded.

Not everyone has supported the proposed Tier 3 standard, however. In an exclusive October column written for Convenience Stores News, Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, noted that the trade group "will be participating with other industry and consumer groups opposed to the rule."

"The new specifications will result in significantly higher gasoline prices with very little environmental benefit," Gilligan stated.

In addition, Frank Greinke, president of the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers Association of America and CEO of SC Fuels in Orange, Calif., stated in another exclusive Convenience Store News column that the trade group is opposed to proposals that "would raise prices at the pump."

Addressing those concerns, the EPA noted in a news release today that the new Tier 3 standards will cost refineries an average of less than one penny per gallon of gasoline once the standards are fully in place. However, the proposal includes flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance.

As for the price tag at a dealership, consumers can expect the sticker price to rise by an average cost of $130 per vehicle in 2025, acknowledged the EPA.

The EPA first considered Tier 3 vehicle standards in 2008. Now that the proposal has become official five years later, it will be published in the Federal Register.

Subsequently, the EPA will host public hearings about the subject in an effort to receive further input.