EDF statement on senators’ letter opposing new limits on smog and soot pollution

February 5, 2013
Mark MacLeod, 202-572-3377, mmacleod@edf.org
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – February 5, 2013) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is deeply disappointed in a new letter from five U.S. senators asking the President to stop a proposal to update passenger vehicle emissions and fuel standards (commonly referred to as Tier 3) before the American public has even had an opportunity to see and comment on the proposal.

“We think the senators are just wrong on this one,” said EDF’s Mark MacLeod. “These new standards — supported by both the auto industry and the American Lung Association — will cut smog, soot, and other dangerous pollutants at a low cost. It’s time to move forward with this rule to protect the health of all Americans, especially children, the elderly, and those with asthma.”

Updating vehicle emissions and fuel standards will help protect public health, provide greater regulatory certainty for the automobile industry, and create jobs in refineries. 

“It’s no wonder that state health commissioners, the automobile industry, and health advocates have all come together to support this effort,” MacLeod added.

In fact, the auto industry has already publicly embraced the goals of Tier 3. Mitch Bainwol, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, recently told Automotive News, “We’d like to see lower sulfur. That’s important to meeting the goal of cleaner emissions … We’re going to be pushing that in Washington.”

Contrary to the senators’ letter, the health benefits of Tier 3 are well understood. More than one in three Americans lives in an area where air pollutant levels exceed at least one of the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Also, passenger vehicles remain the second largest emitters of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the U.S.; those are the primary pollutants that form ozone. Passenger vehicles also emit more than half of all carbon monoxide pollution, and contribute significantly to lethal particulate matter emissions. 

According to a National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) study, updating the standards for passenger vehicles has the potential to cut motor vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds by 29, 38 and 26 percent respectively.

“These vital health protections will be achieved at an extremely modest cost; the additional cost to consumers of the cleaner gasoline would be less than a penny a gallon,” said MacLeod. 

A study by Navigant Economics stated that these health benefits have an estimated value of $5 to $6 billion annually by 2020, and $10 to $11 billion annually by 2030.

Updating our national standards for fuel and vehicles would establish a harmonized national market for cars and small trucks. Timely finalization of the standards would allow manufacturers to efficiently align technology upgrades with the landmark fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks that have already been adopted. Furthermore, once American manufacturers tool up to meet U.S. standards, we can turn to exporting our products around the world.

Manufacturers of emissions control equipment stand ready to manufacture the equipment that will reduce vehicle emissions – and will do so while creating jobs here in America. In 2010 alone, the industry generated $12 billion of economic activity and accounted for 65,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. They have provided the technology to meet every emissions reduction goal ever set, and will do so again. 

The Navigant study also estimated that implementation of the cleaner fuel standard will create more than 5,300 permanent jobs in the operation and maintenance of new refining equipment, as well as more than 24,000 new jobs over a three year period for equipment installation at the nation’s refineries. 

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