By TENNILLE TRACY
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is moving forward
with tough new standards to cut pollution from cars, people
briefed on the plans said Thursday, prompting an outcry from
refiners that say the proposal will raise the cost of producing
gasoline by nearly 10 cents/gal.
The Environmental Protection Agency is
expected to announce the proposal as early as Friday. It is
expected to require refiners to reduce the amount of sulfur in
gasoline to 10 parts per million, down from the current
standard of 30 ppm, people familiar with the issue said.
Sulfur, a natural ingredient in crude oil, reduces the
performance of a car's catalytic converter, a key piece of emissions-control equipment. By
limiting sulfur content, the EPA hopes to make cars emit fewer
"I think this proposal is the single most effective step EPA
can take right now to reduce smog," said Clean Air Watch
president Frank O'Donnell.
The proposal is also expected to impose new tailpipe emissions standards on cars starting
with model year 2017 vehicles. These will require the
installation of better-performing catalytic converters.
Auto makers are preparing for the standards because nearly
identical requirements have been adopted by more than a dozen
states, including California. As a result, auto makers are
generally on board with the EPA's new proposal.
The American Petroleum Institute, however, which represents
refiners, says the standards will cost $10 billion in upfront
capital expenditures and an additional $2.4 billion in annual
The standards will ultimately raise the price of producing
gasoline by 9 cents/gal, the institute says, which would likely
be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices at the
"The costs are significant and could easily impact the
competitiveness of US refineries," said Bob Greco, a director
The EPA's clean-air chief, Gina McCarthy, who has been
nominated to head the agency, has said a tighter sulfur
standard would affect the price of gasoline by only a penny a
gallon. The EPA wasn't immediately available for comment.
The proposal would go out for public comment and could
change before becoming final.
The EPA was initially expected to release the proposal on
sulfur, known as the Tier 3 proposal, in 2012. The Obama
administration delayed its release. It was facing political
heat at the time over high gasoline prices.
The Tier 3 standard would replace Tier 2 sulfur standards,
adopted by the Clinton administration in 2000.
Dow Jones Newswires