WASHINGTON, March 29 (RIA Novosti) – In an effort to reduce pollution, US President Barack Obama’s administration proposed new rules Friday it says will make gasoline and automobile emissions cleaner, but which the oil and gas industry said will hit drivers hard at the pump.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a statement Friday that it is proposing “sensible standards for cars and gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution, prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling efficiency improvements in the cars and trucks we drive.”
The new rules, which would take effect in 2017, would reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent, nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, and require stricter tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks, the EPA said.
Gasoline sulfur by itself does not endanger public health, but it does reduce the effectiveness of automobile catalytic converters, thereby increasing tailpipe emissions.
“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,” the EPA said.
The agency also said the proposals could increase gas prices by less than a penny per gallon and add $130 to the price of a new vehicle in 2025.
But the oil and gas industry, as well as other critics of the proposed rules, said the regulations would raise gas prices by 6 to 9 cents a gallon due to the billions of dollars it would cost refineries to upgrade being passed on to consumers.
With $4-a-gallon gas “the norm in many parts of the country, we cannot afford policies that knowingly raise gas prices,” Republican Congressman Fred Upton, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ energy and commerce committee, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, environmentalists hailed the new rules. The executive director of the National Association for Clean Air Agencies, S. William Becker, said the new standards could be “the most significant air pollution policy President Obama will adopt in his second term,” the Washington Post reported.