Monday, November 21, 2011

Report: cleaner gasoline means less smog in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast; more NOx reduction in the region than under EPA cross-state rule

There is an interesting report out this morning by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management: http://bit.ly/uhrdOZ

It shows that cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline would bring immediate improvements in smog levels throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A tidbit that I found very interesting (see fact sheet, below): that reducing the sulfur content of gas would actually cut more smog-forming nitrogen oxides in the region than would EPA’s Cross-State pollution rule. (Though both are definitely needed.)

There are some interesting state-by-state statistics here for folks outside DC.

This is the second report in past few weeks on the topic. (You may recall the excellent report issued Oct. 31 by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies: http://www.4cleanair.org/documents/NACAATier3VehandFuelReport-EMBARGOED-Oct2011.pdf ). That report noted the cleaner air could be had for less than a penny a gallon of gas. What a bargain!

(The oil companies, naturally, have argued the cleanup would cost more. But they are mixing apples and oranges, because their cost assessments are padded with the supposed expense of additional changes to gasoline – vapor pressure – that EPA is not contemplating.)

We hope the EPA will read these reports and get moving! After all, President Obama promised action on this issue more than a year ago.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.




FACT SHEET

Assessment of Clean Gasoline in the Northeast
and Mid-Atlantic States

A new report available at:
http://www.nescaum.org/documents/nescaum-tier-3-low-s-gasoline-20111121.pdf/

by
Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM)
November 21, 2011

• Many areas of the Ozone Transport Region[1] (OTR) will not achieve or maintain the health-based national air quality standard for ozone (0.075 ppm, 8-hr average) after full implementation of current pollution control programs.
• The USEPA is expected to propose a “Tier 3” motor vehicle rule setting more stringent emission limits for cars and light-duty trucks in early 2012 and finalize the proposal in late 2012.
• The USEPA rule would include tailpipe standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM), which the USEPA intends to harmonize with California vehicle standards.
• The proposed rule is expected to include a requirement to lower gasoline sulfur content to an average of 10 parts per million (ppm) from its current average of 30 ppm.
• Lowering the sulfur content of gasoline allows pollution control equipment (3-way catalysts) on cars and trucks to operate more effectively by reducing sulfur “poisoning” of the catalysts.
• Emission reductions from introducing 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline would occur immediately from the existing motor vehicle fleet, without the need for fleet turnover, due to improved catalyst performance on existing vehicles.
• On a regional scale, NOx emissions have the largest impact on ground-level ozone (smog) formation during high pollution episodes.
• On-road gasoline vehicles are the largest source of NOx emissions in the OTR.
• Over 51,000 tons of NOx from gasoline vehicles could be reduced annually in the OTR in 2017 with the introduction 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline.
• Exposure to smog can:
- Reduce lung function, and aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases
- Cause permanent lung damage from repeated exposures
- Increase risk of premature death
• The amount of NOx reductions achievable in the OTR from 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline is about three times greater than what will be achieved in the OTR from power plant pollution controls under the USEPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Both measures will be needed to help meet the 0.075 ppm ozone health standard.
• NOx also is a major contributor to other health and environmental problems in the OTR, such as fine particulate matter, acid rain, poor visibility, and nitrogen over-enrichment in coastal bays and estuaries (e.g., Chesapeake Bay).
• The public health benefits of reducing smog and sulfate particles from introducing 10 ppm sulfur gasoline in the OTR are estimated to be in the range of $230 million to $1.2 billion dollars annually. In contrast, the cost of lowering sulfur in gasoline is estimated to be in the range of $143 - $400 million annually. The estimated benefits are conservative, and do not include benefits from reducing other harmful impacts of NOx, such as acid rain and nitrogen over-enrichment in coastal bays and estuaries.
• The cost-effectiveness of low sulfur gasoline in reducing NOx emissions is estimated to be in the range of $2,500 - $7,000 per ton of NOx removed. This compares very favorably to other pollution control strategies already implemented or under consideration in the OTR, some of which have cost estimates exceeding $10,000 per ton of NOx removed.
• Failure to obtain cost effective NOx reductions from gasoline motor vehicles, the largest source of NOx emissions in the OTR, could require additional controls on other local sources at higher cost.
• Because 10 ppm low sulfur gasoline would be a national program, it will also have benefits in areas outside the OTR, along with reducing pollution transported into the OTR from motor vehicles operating in the Midwest and Southeast.

[ 1 ] The Ozone Transport Region was created by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, and covers the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region encompassing CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, and the northern VA counties in the DC metropolitan area.

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