By 2030, EPA estimates that the proposed cleaner fuels and cars program will prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths.
Based on extensive input from auto manufactures, refiners, and states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed “sensible” standards for cars and gasoline that aims to significantly reduce harmful pollution, prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling efficiency improvements in the cars and trucks we drive.
These cleaner fuels and cars standards are an important component of the administration’s national program for clean cars and trucks, which also include historic fuel efficiency standards that are saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump today. Once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,400 premature deaths per year and 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children.
Following a proven systems approach that addresses vehicles and fuels as an integrated system, the proposal plans to enable the greatest pollution reductions at the lowest cost. The proposal will slash emissions of a range of harmful pollutants that can cause premature death and respiratory illnesses, including reducing smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80%, establish a 70% tighter particulate matter standard, and reduce fuel vapor emissions to near zero. The proposal will also reduce vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene, by up to 40%.
The proposal supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance.
“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.
By 2030, EPA estimates that the proposed cleaner fuels and cars program will annually prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths, 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children, 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, and 1.8 million lost school days, work days and days when activities would be restricted due to air pollution.
Total health-related benefits in 2030 will be between $8 and $23 billion annually. The program would also reduce exposure to pollution near roads. More than 50 million people live, work, or go to school in close proximity to high-traffic roadways, and the average American spends more than one hour traveling along roads each day.
Throughout the development of the proposal, EPA met with representatives from the automotive and oil and gas industry as well as environmental, consumer advocacy and public health organizations. Based on initial feedback from these groups and a thorough rulemaking process, EPA’s proposal is estimated to provide up to $7 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards. The proposed sulfur standards will cost refineries less than a penny per gallon of gasoline on average once the standards are fully in place. The proposed vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $130 per vehicle in 2025. The proposal also includes flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance.
The proposed standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60% —down to 10 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Reducing sulfur in gasoline enables vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently. This means that vehicles built prior to the proposed standards will run cleaner on the new low-sulfur gas, providing significant and immediate benefits by reducing emissions from every gas-powered vehicle on the road.
The proposed standards will work together with California’s clean cars and fuels program to create a harmonized nationwide vehicle emissions program that enables automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The proposal is designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as the next phase of EPA’s national program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks beginning in model year 2017. Together, the federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxics from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty and streamlining compliance.
Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be available for public comment and EPA will hold public hearings to receive further public input.