EPA Proposes New Rule To Clean Up Gasoline And Reduce Smog

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on Friday a rule to clean up gasoline. The new lower sulfur gas is already what California uses to reduce air pollution, and the EPA wants it to be used nationwide. The agency estimates that it would save lives while adding a penny a gallon to the cost of gas. The oil industry fears it will cost more.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule to clean up gasoline. The regulation would reduce ozone and other air pollutants by close to 30 percent. That would benefit 100 million people who now live in areas that at times have unhealthful air. NPR's Richard Harris reports.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: Even though automobile emissions have improved a lot in recent decades, cars are still a major source of the compounds that create smog, so the EPA has been working on new regulations to reduce those emissions more. The main target now is to reduce sulfur in gasoline. Sulfur hampers catalytic converters, so they aren't as effective as they could be in eliminating pollution. Bill Becker, who heads the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, says this would play a critical role in helping regions meet health-based air quality standards.

BILL BECKER: We know of no other air pollution strategy that will achieve as substantial, as immediate and as cost-effective emission reductions as lowering sulfur in fuel. We can do this for less than a penny. It can be done literally overnight, and it is cost-effective compared to other strategies.

HARRIS: But the American Petroleum Institute is arguing against the new regulation saying that modifying the refineries to reduce sulfur would add 6 to 9 cents to the price of a gallon of gas. EPA rules are designed to minimize that cost by giving the industry flexibility to meet the target. California already requires gas to meet this new standard, along with Japan and the European Union. Richard Harris, NPR News.

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