Proposed EPA Sulfur Standard to Boost Gas Prices

By:  Jack Kenny
Proposed EPA Sulfur Standard to Boost Gas Prices

New regulations proposed on sulfur content could hike prices at the pump as much as nine cents per gallon.

Tighter restrictions proposed on sulfur content will add a penny or less to the retail price of a gallon of gasoline, according to the Obama administration, while the oil industry contends those same rules could hike prices at the pump as much as nine cents per gallon. The new regulations would reduce pollution by the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road, administration officials claim, while lowering healthcare costs by reducing incidents of respiratory illnesses caused in part by poor air quality.

While noting that the proposal by the federal Environmental Protection Agency is in "the proposal stage not in the final rulemaking stage," deputy presidential press secretary Josh Earnest cited research by the EPA when telling reporters that the impact on the price of gas would probably be a penny or less per gallon. The benefits, he said, would include "tens of thousands fewer cases of respiratory ailments like asthma in children and thousands of lives saved," according to the EPA analysis. The administration claimed the proposed standards would prevent as many as 2,400 deaths a year and save between $8 billion to $23 billion a year in health costs by 2030.

The American Petroleum Institute, representing oil companies, said the proposed rule would add to a "tsunami of federal regulations" and would ultimately raise greenhouse-gas emissions because of the energy-consuming equipment it would take to bring refineries into compliance.

"We urge the administration to bring common sense back into the regulatory process," said Bob Greco, director of the API's Downstream Group. "Unnecessary regulations just mean higher costs and lost jobs."

Regulations now limit sulfur content in gasoline to ten parts per million in smog-ridden California, but up to 30 parts per million in all other states. The new rule would impose the California standard on the entire nation. The lower limit is said to make catalytic converters in automobile exhaust systems more effective in reducing the emissions of particles that cause smog and soot.

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