Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Expert harpoons inflated oil industry cost claims about cleaner gas... while enviro groups blast dirty-air legislation

A few interesting updates as a House committee holds a hearing this morning on oil-industry inspired dirty-air legislation.

As you may recall, the oil industry has done its traditional job of drastically overstating the possible costs associated with an environmental standard (in this case, upcoming EPA lower-sulfur, lower-smog gas standards -- which, by the way, haven't even been proposed yet).

An industry expert is tearing apart those oil industry cost projections this morning. See his testimony here:

The expert, George Schink of the Navigant consulting firm, notes that the oil industry has buried a key fact in its own study -- that cleaner gas would cost on average only 2.1 cents a gallon even under assumptions that basically double the cost! (EPA has noted that the standards will cost only a penny a gallon. Traditionally, EPA adds various bits of flexibility to rules like this to soften any cost impact.)

This testimony calls into question the credibility of the oil industry -- and rightly so! The oil companies read the old book How to Lie With Statistics. Fortunately, Schink is calling them on their dirty-air duplicity.

Meanwhile, nine groups, including Clean Air Watch, have blasted the dirty-air legislation drafted by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), which no doubt was inspired by and probably ghost-written by oil industry lobbyists. We note that, among other things, the legislation would this bill would "fundamentally undermines" the Clean Air Act. We pointed this out last week when the legislation first emerged from the oil company computers

Here is a text of the new letter:

March 28, 2012

The Honorable Ed Whitfield
Subcommittee on Energy and Power US House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Whitfield,

Our organizations are writing to express our opposition to the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, which would delay vital Clean Air Act protections applicable to the largest polluters, diminish crucial public health benefits for all Americans, and will have no discernible impact on gas prices. The bill has far-reaching, adverse health and environmental impacts, including, among others, fundamentally altering ozone public health protections and delaying a protective Tier 3 clean air program for passenger vehicles.

The bill mandates consideration of costs in the determination of ozone health-based air quality standards, overturning 40 years of clean air protection in America. The bill would thwart the intent of a unanimous, bipartisan Senate, which in 1970, plainly required the Administrator to establish standards that “are requisite to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.” The bill would also overturn a unanimous Supreme Court decision, where the Court, in an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, concluded that the Clean Air Act was clear in its requirement that health-based air quality standards be based solely on health science. The Clean Air Act already thoroughly allows for consideration of economic factors, including cost and feasibility, in implementing pollution control strategies to achieve clean air. By including cost in the standard-setting process, this bill would fundamentally undermine these health-based protections, preventing American families from knowing whether the air they breathe is safe.

The bill also seeks to delay updated emission performance standards for petroleum refineries and a protective Tier 3 clean air program for passenger vehicles, which would significantly cut emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds, translating into more than 400 avoided premature deaths and 52,000 avoided lost workdays each year.[1] The cleaner gasoline needed to secure these clean air benefits would cost less than a penny a gallon – contrary to the erroneous, fear-based claims being made by the petroleum refining industry and its allies about the costs of cleaner, healthier air.

This bill fundamentally undermines these and other health-protective measures, damaging the ability of communities to maintain healthy air and resulting in additional

[1] NACAA, Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air: The Need for and Benefits of Tier
3 Vehicle and Fuel Regulations; October, 2011.

sickness and premature death. We cannot afford to delay these vital clean air protections for millions of Americans.

Center for Biological Diversity
Clean Air Watch
Environmental Defense Fund
League of Conservation Voters
Sierra Club
Southern Environmental Law Center
Union of Concerned Scientists

cc: Members, Subcommittee on Energy and Power

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