U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today announced that the Obama Administration is releasing plans to implement a third tier of emission reduction standards that will increase vehicular fuel efficiency. The President initially instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with a new proposal in 2010 as part of proposed vehicle efficiency standards, but the rules had yet to be formally proposed. Today, the Administration is releasing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, detailing the new standards. There will be a public comment period before new rule is finalized, which is expected to be later this year. This step by the Administration will improve human health and stimulate job creation by moving towards the final adoption of Tier 3 emission and fuel standards.
"The implementation of Tier 3 emission standards is a big step forward for Americans," said Senator Gillibrand. "More stringent emission standards would significantly decrease air pollution, create new jobs and increase worker's economic productivity by reducing the number of sick days they take from lung and heart related ailments. We've cleared a crucial step in the process, and I will continue to urge the Administration to move quickly to finalize the rule this year."
The first and second tier emission reduction standards were implemented in the early 1990's and the early and mid-2000's, respectively. However, chemicals released from cars and other light-duty vehicles directly contribute to high levels of smog, which can trigger asthma attacks and adversely affects those with heart and lung diseases. The implementation of a new Tier 3 emission standard is expected to result in a 29 percent decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions, a 38 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions and a 26 percent decrease in volatile organic compound emissions. According to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), reducing the emissions of these harmful chemicals would prevent 400 premature deaths and 52,000 lost workdays due to illness each year.
Today, requirements for the new Tier 3 standards were formally proposed, which include relying on installing advanced catalytic convertors in new vehicles to eliminate pollution and reducing the sulfur content of gasoline. Reducing sulfur in gasoline would increase the effectiveness of the catalytic convertors. Additionally, older vehicles that do not have the technology for the converters would still benefit because their engines would produce less hazardous byproducts from the reduced sulfur in gasoline. The new technology would add less than $150 to the price of a new vehicle, and would have practically no effect on the cost of gasoline. Additionally, a study by Navigant Economics concluded that installing the catalytic converters would generate 24,500 jobs over three years and that the value of the health benefits from reduced emissions would equal $5-6 billion annually by 2020 and $10-11 billion annually by 2030.
A recent study by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies asserted that the catalytic converters and decreased amount of sulfur in gasoline would be the most cost-efficient method for reducing these types of emissions.