Senators push Obama to propose clean gasoline rules

Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:59am EST
 
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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON Nov 29 (Reuters) - A group of Democratic senators on Thursday will urge the Obama administration to propose rules to cut smog-forming emissions from gasoline, regulations opposed by many Republicans.

The lawmakers, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, want the Environmental Protection Agency to propose rules that would slash the sulfur content in gasoline this year and to finalize them next year.

"Tier 3 will substantially reduce harmful pollutants that are responsible for health-related ailments such as heart attacks, premature death, asthma attacks and other chronic lung diseases," Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a letter obtained by Reuters that will be sent to President Barack Obama later on Thursday.

The rules, which had been expected to be proposed early in 2012, would require the sulfur content of gasoline to be cut to 10 parts per million, down from the current 30 ppm standard. Republican lawmakers have opposed the rules saying they would add costs to refiners and put jobs at risk.

The American Petroleum Institute, the main energy industry lobbying group, has said the rules could increase operating costs for refiners by up to 9 cents a gallon.

Ed Whitfield, a Republican in the House of Representatives, introduced a bill this year to stop the EPA from issuing the rules.

The EPA, however, has testified before Congress the price of cleaner gasoline would be closer to a penny a gallon, and even those costs would be greatly surpassed by savings in healthcare bills from reductions in lung-harming smog.

The senators quoted in the letter a study released in June by Navigant Consulting that said the rules could reduce health care costs by $5 billion or $6 billion a year by 2020 and double that by 2030.   Continued...