Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NE & Mid-Atlantic enviro commissioners to EPA: we need clean-car, clean-gasoline standards NOW -- in 2012!

Dear friends,

Please note the letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, below, from seven Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic state environmental commissioners (CT, MD, MA, DC, RI, NY & VT).

They are urging EPA to move quickly to move quickly to set new (so-called Tier 3) vehicle tailpipe pollution and cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline standards. The EPA testified months ago to Congress that it was working on these standards, but there has been deafening silence since.

This is the latest letter urging the EPA to take action. Other letters have been sent by the pollution control industry leaders as well as by major health and environmental groups.

The clock is ticking loudly. Will EPA finally get the message?

January 25, 2012
Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mail Code: 6102T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Standards / Low Sulfur Gasoline Rule

Dear Administrator Jackson:

We, the undersigned state environmental leaders, write to urge you to expeditiously propose the Tier 3 motor vehicle and low sulfur gasoline standards and to finalize that rule in 2012. Despite a significant and sustained joint state and federal effort spanning more than 40 years, air pollution remains a serious public health threat in our region and across the United States.

EPA first committed to proposing Tier 3 standards in 2008 to help states meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone and is late in delivering the much needed reductions from the light-duty vehicle sector. This sector remains a significant source of ozone forming pollutants across the country. EPA’s own modeling analysis shows that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (if implemented) will not result in attaining the new ozone NAAQS in many of the most populous areas in our region. Clearly, Tier 3 and low sulfur gasoline is needed to better protect public health.

Emissions from cars and light and medium-duty trucks also contribute to fine particle pollution and are key sources of hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and 1,3-butadiene. These pollutants disproportionately affect people living and working in our urban communities, where vehicle congestion and population density are highest. Further, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other vehicle -related pollutants contribute to a number of environmental problems such as acid rain, coastal marine eutrophication, and regional haze that affect cherished and economically valuable resources in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

Light-duty vehicles are by far the largest source of NOx emissions in the Ozone Transport Region (OTR), emitting over 700,000 tons of NOx per year. Lowering the sulfur content of gasoline to 10 parts per million (ppm), as EPA is considering, would immediately reduce NOx from this sector by more than 25 percent. Over time, the vehicle standards will dramatically reduce harmful pollutants as the Tier 3 vehicles replace older cars and trucks in the fleet.

A recent analysis indicates that the Tier 3/low sulfur gasoline program would reduce NOx emissions in the OTR by over 50,000 tons per year in 2017, which is more than three times the benefits projected for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in the region.1 Further, as a national strategy, the Tier 3 low sulfur gasoline provision alone would reduce NOx emissions by over 175,000 tons per year, or 500 tons per day, by 2017 across the eastern United States. These reductions will benefit air quality by lowering the “ozone reservoir” and accompanying NOx precursor pollution generated in the eastern United States and transported into the OTR under the prevailing summertime winds.

These reductions would translate to between $235 million and $1.2 billion in direct public health benefits annually in our region. The 10 ppm sulfur gasoline provisions would likely reduce NOx at a cost of less than $4,000 per ton, which is comparable to or less than the costs associated with federal Tier 2 and heavy-duty engine/low sulfur diesel rules and many stationary source controls, including industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) boilers and combustion turbines.

Given the stringency of existing emission controls already in place in our states, federal constraints on state regulation of motor vehicle fuels, and the fact that our states are significantly affected by pollution transport from sources outside the region, national emission control measures for light-duty vehicles are critical to achieving further improvements in air quality.

Without Tier 3 and other federal measures, more costly emission reductions will have to be accomplished by controlling local sources in our states beyond what otherwise would be needed, in order to compensate for the foregone national measures.

We respectfully request that EPA expeditiously issue a notice of proposed rulemaking and finalize the Tier 3/low sulfur gasoline rule in 2012.


Daniel C. Esty, Commissioner
CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Christophe A. G. Tulou, Director
DC Department of the Environment

Robert M. Summers, Secretary
MD Department of the Environment

Kenneth L. Kimmell, Commissioner
MA Department of Environmental Protection

Joseph J. Martens, Commissioner
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Janet Coit, Director
RI Department of Environmental Management

David K. Mears, Commissioner
VT Department of Environmental Conservation

1 Assessment of Clean Gasoline in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use
Management, Boston, MA (November 2011).

cc: Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator, EPA
Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, OAR
Margo Oge, Director, OAR/OTAQ

Monday, January 23, 2012

EPA to court: we're punting final decision on particle soot air standard to 2013

This should not come as a shock, but it is disappointing nonetheless. In a filing in federal court (and H/T to BNA Daily Environment Report for spotting this!) the U.S. EPA has said it does not intend to set final new fine particle soot air quality standards before mid-2013! EPA says it intends to propose new standards by June 2012.

This is quite a disapppointment to health and environmental groups. The science is already in: we know current air standards are too weak. In fact, people are getting sick and dying under current standards. There is no excuse for EPA to drag its feet.

You may recall the background: the prior Bush administration set standards that were weaker than recommended by EPA's science advisers. State, health and environmental groups sued, and the EPA decision was found to be arbitrary and capricious. The court told EPA to go back to the drawing board. New science was reviewed. Again the science advisers have called for tougher standards.

Pollution control industry to EPA: cleaner cars and cleaner gas mean big economic benefits

This is an excellent letter. It points out that long-awaited EPA standards for cleaner cars and cleaner gasoline will not only mean cleaner air, but also real economic benefits.

January 13, 2012
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
U.S. EPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
Mail Code: 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

We are writing collectively as representatives of the mobile source emissions control industry to respectfully urge you to advance the agency’s proposal for Tier 3 emission and fuel standards this month and adopt the new standards by mid-year. We fear that delay will jeopardize the ultimate
adoption of these new standards and deny the country of the health and economic benefits associated with the new rule.

The potential health benefits associated with Tier 3 are well established by numerous health effects studies. The plain fact is passenger vehicles are a major source of emissions of ozone precursors,carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Studies have shown that these pollutants threaten human
health by reducing lung function, aggravating asthma and other chronic lung diseases, causing permanent lung damage through repeated exposure, and causing heart attacks.1

These health threats can lead to premature death. Tier 3 has the potential to substantially reduce these health threats by cutting overall vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides by 29%, carbon monoxides by 38%, and volatile organic compounds by 26% by 2030.2

Reducing the sulfur content of gasoline is critical to achieving these emission reductions on new vehicles. State-of-the-art emission control systems require low sulfur fuel to achieve optimal performance in terms of both emissions reduction and cost. Importantly, reducing the sulfur content
of the fuel will also reduce harmful emissions from the in-use-fleet by almost 30% in the first year of the program.

In addition to these important environmental benefits, Tier 3 also has the potential to generate substantial economic benefits. First among these is the ability of the auto industry and its suppliers to scale production and maximize efficiency in the manufacture of new vehicles and systems that are
designed to meet the tighter tailpipe emission standards.

1 Health Effects Institute, “Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects, Special Report 17,” January 12, 2010.

2 National Association of Clean Air Agencies, “Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air: The Need for and Benefits of Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Regulations,” October 2011, p 16.

California is adopting new emission standards under their LEV III rule to address serious ozone and PM nonattainment problems in many regions of the state. If EPA does not move forward promptly to adopt Tier 3, other states with ozone and PM nonattainment problems will likely adopt emission
standards similar to LEV III, as they are authorized to do so under the Clean Air Act. This would result in automakers and their suppliers having to manufacture vehicles with different emission systems for different state markets.

Tier 3 addresses this problem by harmonizing emission standards across the country. This would enable car makers and their suppliers to scale production to one set of standards, thereby minimizing the cost of the emissions reduction for the auto industry, its suppliers, and consumers alike.

The second important economic benefit is the increased investment that will be driven by Tier 3. Automakers, their suppliers, and petroleum refiners will have to make an increased investment to meet the new tailpipe and fuel standards. This investment will most certainly generate employment
opportunities in the United States. Our industry is willing and eager to make this investment to improve the national economy.

The third economic benefit is the technology development that will be required to meet the new Tier 3 standards. Over the last forty years, our industry has collaborated with our customers in the auto industry to develop successive generations of emission control technologies to meet the evertightening emission standards. Because the United States has led the world in mobile source regulation, we have also led the world in the development of emissions reduction technology. Tier 3 will be no different.

It will establish a new threshold of tighter standards that will set the stage for the next step of emission reductions around the world. We will develop technology that will meet the new Tier 3 standards in the United States first. And, as these new standards migrate around the world,
we will be in the best position to supply product into these new expanding markets.

The experience of our industry over the last 40 years vividly demonstrates this connection between regulation and economic development. Prior to 1970, our industry did not exist. But, with the enactment of the Clean Air Act in 1970, our industry has flourished, developing successive generations of technology to meet ever tightening regulatory standards. Since the introduction of the catalytic converter in 1975, more than 500 million light-duty vehicles have been sold in the United States equipped with exhaust and evaporative emission control technologies developed by our
industry. This generated an estimated $250-$300 billion in economic activity since 1975. In 2010 alone, our industry generated $12 billion of economic activity and accounted for 65,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing.3

We understand that other parties have argued against the adoption of low sulfur fuel standards because of increased investment that may be necessary at the refinery level to meet the lower sulfur standard and because of an alleged increase in the cost of gasoline for consumers. We believe that
increased business investment is good for America and we are prepared to make the investment to meet the new Tier 3 tailpipe standards. We believe our customers in the automobile industry share this view.4

3 Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association, “MECA Highlights Economic Benefits of Mobile Source Emissions Control Industry,” March 11, 2011.

4 Bainwol, Mitch. Letter. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, October 6, 2011.

We also believe that the cost to consumers of low sulfur fuel is insignificant, at less than $5 per year for an average American driver.5 This small increased cost of fuel will be more than offset for American consumers by the health benefits of cleaner air arising from the new Tier 3 emission and fuel standards.

We appreciate the opportunity to make our views known and stand ready to be of assistance to your agency as you proceed with your consideration of Tier 3.


Joseph Kubsh
Executive Director
Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association

Timothy Regan
Emissions Control Technology Association

BASF Corporation
BorgWarner Inc.
Bosal Emission Control Systems North America
Clean Diesel Technologies Inc., including Catalytic Solutions Inc. and
Engine Control Systems Limited
Corning Incorporated
Johnson Matthey Inc.
NGK Automotive Ceramics USA, Inc.
Stoneridge Inc.
Tenneco, Inc.
Umicore Autocat USA
Unifrax I LLC

cc: Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator, EPA (
Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, OAR (
Nancy Sutley, Chair, CEQ (
Gary Guzy, Deputy Director, CEQ (
Margo Oge, Director, OAR/OTAQ (
Cass Sunstein, Administrator, OIRA (
Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, (

5 National Association of Clean Air Agencies, “Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air: The Need for and Benefits of Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Regulations,” October 2011, p 15. The sulfur provision translates to a cost
of $4.80 per year for the average driver or the equivalent of about 1.5 gallons of gasoline at current prices (assumes 12,000 miles/year, 25 mpg, 1 cent/gal

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Congressional Research Service: EPA mercury/toxic rule for power plants will NOT mean lights out

H/T to BNA Daily Environment Report for bringing this to our attention.

This report on EPA's new mercury/toxic rules for coal power plants by the respected Congressional Research Service undercuts the propaganda by several big coal power companies including American Electric Power and Southern Company.

It concludes that the lights won't go out -- and that electric rates won't rise much. To quote from the report's conclusions:

A particular issue has been whether the standards will lead to retirement
of a significant number of electric generating units, with negative effects on the reliability of the power supply. EPA and many other analysts maintain that this will not be the case.

To address this question, this report reviews industry data on planning reserve margins and potential retirement of units that do not currently meet the standards. Based on these data, it appears that, although the rule may lead to the retirement or derating of some facilities, almost all
of the capacity reductions will occur in areas that have substantial reserve margins. Two areas that may have difficulty meeting reserve margins, Texas and New England, will experience few plant retirements and deratings, according to industry data. Furthermore, to address the reliability concerns expressed by industry, the final rule includes provisions aimed at providing additional time for compliance if it is needed to install pollution controls or add new capacity to ensure
reliability in specific areas. As a result, it is unlikely that electric reliability will be harmed by the rule.

Another potential concern, given the rule’s cost, is what impact it may have on the price of electricity. EPA estimates that the average price of electricity nationally will increase by 3.1% by 2015, as a result of the rule. Electricity prices have declined more than 20% in real terms since
1980. The impact of price changes would be relatively small compared to this downward trend, and well within the normal range of historical price fluctuations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Major enviro groups to EPA: we need new clean car, clean gas standards now!

The letter below neatly sums up the need for new clean-car, clean-gas standards.

The real question: will President Obama and his team permit the EPA to move forward with these critical standards?

January 11, 2012


The Honorable Lisa Jackson
USEPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
Mail Code: 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

We are writing to strongly urge you to take an important step to reduce pollution from the nation's cars, light trucks, and sport-utility vehicles. In particular, we respectfully ask you to immediately propose Tier 3 emissions and gasoline standards for passenger vehicles and to finalize these protections by the summer of 2012. A rigorous Tier 3 program
would have immediate and far-reaching health and environmental benefits: reducing a cascade of harmful airborne contaminants, ensuring longer and healthier lives, and helping states and communities across our country restore healthy air. 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. And timely finalization of Tier 3 standards would allow manufacturers to efficiently align technology
upgrades with pending fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards. Now is the time to secure these human health protections for our nation.

Millions of Americans breathe cleaner, healthier air as a result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's leadership in carrying out our nation's clean air laws. But serious challenges remain. More than 1 in 3 Americans still live in areas where air pollutant levels exceed at least one of the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
And passenger vehicles remain the second largest emitters of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the U.S. – the primary pollutants that form ozone. These vehicles also emit more than half of all carbon monoxide pollution and contribute significantly to lethal particulate matter emissions.

A protective Tier 3 program has the potential to cut gasoline vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides by nearly sixty percent, carbon monoxide by about 38 percent, and volatile organic compounds by close to a third when these protections are carried out.

The substantial emissions reductions from all vehicles will translate into more than 400 avoided premature deaths and 52,000 avoided lost workdays each year.1

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

Reducing sulfur in gasoline will also result in an immediate reduction in emissions from the existing fleet – on the order of approximately 260,000 tons of nitrogen oxides in 2017 when the program begins – equivalent to taking 33 million cars off our nation’s roads.

A timely federal Tier 3 program is also imperative for states to meet the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards, including the ozone standard adopted in 2008, which assumed final Tier 3 emissions and gasoline standards in its baseline. Emissions reductions not achieved through a rigorous Tier 3 program would have to come from controls on local sources, which could be far less significant in magnitude and less cost-

A timely Tier 3 program is critical to protect human health from transportation sector pollution and one of the single most cost-effective solutions our nation can deploy to help states achieve and maintain healthy air in communities out of compliance with health-based national air quality standards. We cannot afford to delay these vital clean air
protections for millions of Americans.

In a May 2010 Rose Garden ceremony, President Obama announced his intention to finalize a Tier 3 program by 2012 that would reduce sulfur levels in gasoline and introduce cleaner cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles on the same schedule as his already-finalized greenhouse gas program. Proposing this program now will help ensure that the President’s commitment is kept. Thus, we strongly urge you to propose this
program as soon as possible.

Frances Beinecke
President Natural Resources Defense Council

Kevin Knobloch
Union of Concerned Scientists

Michael Brune
Executive Director Sierra Club

Fred Krupp
Environmental Defense Fund

Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator, EPA (
Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, OAR (
Nancy Sutley, Chair, CEQ (
Gary Guzy, Deputy Director, CEQ (
Margo Oge, Director, OAR/OTAQ (
Cass Sunstein, Administrator, OIRA (
Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,