Thursday, November 29, 2012

Here is the letter and release from Senator Gillibrand on the Senate call for clean-gasoline standards

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Contact: Bethany Lesser (202) 224-3873 




Implementing Tier 3 Standards Would Generate More Than 24,000 Jobs Over Three Years While Protecting the Public from Hazardous Pollutants


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today urged the Obama Administration to implement a third tier of emission reduction standards that would increase vehicular fuel efficiency.  The President initially instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with a new proposal in 2010 as part of proposed vehicle efficiency standards, but the rules have yet to be formally proposed. Joined by twelve of her Senate Colleges, Senator Gillibrand called on the Administration to take an important step to improve human health and stimulate job creation by promptly adopting Tier 3 emission and fuel standards.


“The implementation of Tier 3 emission standards would be valuable to Americans,” said Senator Gillibrand. “More stringent emission standards would significantly decrease air pollution, create jobs and increase worker’s economic productivity by reducing the number of sick days they take from lung and heart related ailments.”


The first and second tier emission reduction standards were implemented in the early 1990’s and the early and mid-2000’s, respectively.  However, chemicals released from cars and other light-duty vehicles directly contribute to high levels of smog, which can trigger asthma attacks and adversely affects those with heart and lung diseases. The implementation of a new Tier 3 emission standard is expected to result in a 29 percent decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions, a 38 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions and a 26 percent decrease in volatile organic compound emissions. According to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), reducing the emissions of these harmful chemicals would prevent 400 premature deaths and 52,000 lost workdays due to illness each year.


The requirements for the new Tier 3 standards have not been formally proposed, however, it is expected that the rules would rely on installing advanced catalytic convertors in new vehicles to eliminate pollution and reducing the sulfur content of gasoline.  Reducing sulfur in gasoline would increase the effectiveness of the catalytic convertors.  Additionally, older vehicles that do not have the technology for the converters would still benefit because their engines would produce less hazardous byproducts from the reduced sulfur in gasoline.  The new technology would add less than $150 to the price of a new vehicle, and would have practically no effect on the cost of gasoline.  Additionally, a study by Navigant Economics concluded that installing the catalytic converters would generate 24,500 jobs over three years and that the value of the health benefits from reduced emissions would equal $5-6 billion annually by 2020 and $10-11 billion annually by 2030.


A recent study by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies asserted that the catalytic converters and decreased amount of sulfur in gasoline would be the most cost-efficient method for reducing these types of emissions. 


Senator Gillibrand was joined on the letter by Senators Joseph Lieberman, Patty Murray, Ben Cardin, Dick Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez, Jeff Merkley, Charles E. Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, John Kerry and Sherrod Brown.


The text of the letter is below:


November 29, 2012



President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C.  20500


Dear Mr. President:


We are writing to strongly urge you to take an important step to improve human health and stimulate job creation by proposing the so-called Tier 3 emission and fuel standards in 2012 and adopting them promptly thereafter.


The health benefits associated with the Tier 3 proposal are well established.  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.  A recent study by Navigant Economics stated that these health benefits have an estimated value of $5-$6 billion annually by 2020 and $10-$11 billion annually by 2030.


In addition to these health benefits, Tier 3 will also result in significant economic benefits.  Navigant’s study estimated that Tier 3 will create over 24,000 new jobs over three years for equipment installation at the nation’s refineries.  Another 5,300 jobs will be created by the operation and maintenance of this new equipment.  These jobs will be the direct outcome of refining industry investments in new plants and equipment to reduce the sulfur content of gasoline and to make American refineries more competitive.


Furthermore, a study sponsored by the oil industry has concluded that Tier 3 will not result in refinery closures.  As no refineries are expected to close because of Tier 3, its adoption will not cost jobs.  On the contrary, it will create jobs.  


Implementation of Tier 3 will also capture the economic benefit associated with harmonized emission standards and a uniform low sulfur fuel standard nationwide.  As a national program, Tier 3 will enable auto makers and their suppliers to manufacture to scale and minimize the cost of emissions reduction equipment installed in new vehicles. 


Another important benefit of Tier 3 is that it will yield the most cost effective means for the states to achieve cleaner, healthier air and meet their National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”) attainment goals as required under the Clean Air Act.  This is why the Bush Administration assumed the timely implementation of Tier 3 when it set the ozone NAAQS in 2008.  According to a study by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (“NACAA”), 10-ppm sulfur gasoline will result in a reduction of over 260,000 tons of NOx emissions overnight.  We know of no other single strategy for NOx that will achieve as significant, timely, and cost effective emissions reductions.  


Opponents of Tier 3 have claimed that the regulation will result in increased gas prices at the pump.  Stated simply, Navigant’s study defies this claim.  The study showed that reducing the sulfur content of gasoline under Tier 3 will increase the cost of refining by only one cent per gallon.  The study also proved that this cost increase to refiners will not be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices. 


In closing, it is clear that the numerous health and economic benefits of Tier 3 far outweigh any costs to refineries in making the investment to reduce sulfur. We hope that in light of these compelling considerations, you will move forward with proposing Tier 3. 





Coalition leaders hail Senators' call for clean-gasoline standards

As you may be aware, Senator Gillibrand and 12 of her Senate colleagues are sending a letter today to the US EPA, urging the agency to move swiftly on the so-called Tier 3 low-sulfur gasoline standards –  the most effective smog-fighting tool available – one that would immediately make every car on the road pollute less.

Positive reactions are already coming in from members of the broad and diverse coalition supporting this critical clean-fuel initiative.  Please note some sample reactions, below.



 From Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies:

 “There is not another air pollution control strategy that we can think of that offers as substantial, expeditious and cheap emissions reductions as Tier 3. This program will reduce 240,000 tons of NOx emissions overnight for less than a penny a gallon.”


From the Emissions Control Technology Association:

 ECTA Congratulates Senator Gillibrand and Her 12 Colleagues for Advancing Tier 3.

Washington, DC, November 29, 2012 – Tim Regan, the President of the Emissions Control Technology Association, applauds Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues for taking a stand on Tier 3.  Regan said, “The emissions control industry congratulates Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues, Senators Blumenthal, Brown, Cardin, Durbin, Lautenberg, Kerry, Lieberman, Menendez, Merkle, Murray, Schumer, and Whitehouse, for strongly urging the Administration to move forward with great haste to propose and adopt Tier 3.”  He highlighted the importance of Tier 3 to the industry, stating that, “The industry needs certainty associated with this rule to launch the technology development process needed to manufacture products to meet the new standards for model year 2017.  If the rule slips any further, it will delay the implementation of a nationwide standard for a year.  This will diminish the job creation and clear air benefits associated with Tier 3.  Americans are clamoring for jobs and improved air quality.  The time to act is now.”



From Michelle Robinson, Director of the Clean Vehicle Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists

“The administration took a bold step toward delivering a cleaner car for the American driver when it finalized new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for passenger vehicles, but there is more to do.  We applaud Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues for urging the administration to take the next step to limit tailpipe emissions and reduce the sulfur content of gasoline.  With this standard, our vehicles and the air we breathe will be cleaner, and our public health will be the better for it.”



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Senators Urge EPA to Squash the "Dirty Bug" Loophole

Six U.S. senators have written to the US EPA, urging it to reconsider a dirty-air move to give big loopholes to dirty diesel back-up generators. (See letter below. For background on this "Dirty Bug" issue, see )

Let us hope, for breathers' sakes, that EPA heeds this timely warning

November 27, 2012

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue , N .W. Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator  Jackson:
We urge you to reconsider a proposed rule that could put public health at risk by increasing air pollut ion from backup diesel generators.  This rule would amend the national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE NESHAP) under section 112 ofthe Clean Air Act, as well as the corresponding revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).  We are concerned that the current proposal would significantly expand the number of hours that these backup generators would be allowed to operate without any emissions control technology , even in non-emergency conditions. We urge you to finalize a rule that ensures Americans are not breathing dirtier air.
On June 7, 2012, EPA issued a proposed rule as part of a settlement agreement to amend the existing RICE NESHAP . Under the current standards, EPA allows emergency backup  engines to operate without meeting emissions limits for as long as necessary during actual emergencies , such as the recent power loss and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The current standards also allow emergency backup generators to operate up to 15 hours per year as part of a demand response program, without installing emission controls . EPA's proposed revisions to the existing standards would dramatically expand this exemption for non-emergency operation. Specifically, the proposed rule would allow emergency backup engines to operate for up to 100 hours per year as part of an emergency demand response program, and-until April 16, 20 17-up to 50 hours per year for peak shaving and non-emergency demand response .
It is troubling that these backup generators would be permitted to operate for significant periods of time in non-emergency situations without any emissions controls . Demand response programs are intended to reduce energy costs and air pollution by encouraging energy efficiency and smart grid management. Operating an uncontrolled diesel generator instead of drawing power from the electricity grid is simply shifting energy demand from the grid to a more polluting on-site generator. If emergency generators wish to participate in electricity markets , they should be required to compete on a level playing field by meeting emissions limits that protect public health.
Allowing these diesel generators to significantly increase operation in non-emergency situations would increase the potential for emissions from these sources.  However, the proposed rule fails to account fully for these increased emissions because the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) relied on insufficient data and did not include a robust air quality analysis.  Therefore, we urge EPA to ensure that any final rule includes the necessary data collection to fully assess the impact of these backup generators, and requires appropriate emission controls as mandated by the Clean Air Act.

 During your tenure as Administrator, the EPA has made tremendous progress cleaning up our air and protecting public health.    We look forward to your continued leadership and encourage EPA to revise its proposal and refrain from issuing a final rule until a full analysis of the public health and air quality impacts of the proposed amendments for backup generators can be completed.



 Frank Lautenberg
Joseph Lieberman
Kirsten Gillibrand
Sheldon Whitehouse
Benjamin Cardin
Robert Menendez

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

House leaders pull Primatene Mist bailout bill -- for now

This afternoon, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives withdrew -- for now -- legislation to bail out the makers of the banned CFC-producing Primatene Mist inhalers.  Politico reported:

House Republicans have for now pulled a bill directing the EPA to allow Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to sell leftover stocks of the asthma inhaler Primatene Mist, which was banned at the end of last year because of an international pact on products containing chlorofluorocarbons. The bill, initially set for a House vote Monday, will be rescheduled after Thanksgiving, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor emailed. “We have a scheduling issue,” the spokesman said.

Translation: they didn't have the votes -- at least not today.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ozone Alert! Congress comes back, and one of its first votes tomorrow... (read on, friends)

…is not to deal with the “fiscal cliff,” but to vote on a special, sweetheart piece of legislation to help out a former member of Congress.

The legislation. H.R. 6190 (dubbed the “Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012”)  would bring the banned inhaler Primatene Mist back on the market.

Primatene Mist was banned at the end of 2011 because it contains CFCs which destroy the earth’s upper ozone layer. 

We were reminded yesterday in the New York Times by former OMB Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein that agreeing to phase out CFCs was one of President Ronald Reagan’s great environmental achievements .

 The irony here is that an ozone-destroying chemical may come back on the market courtesy a former Democratic Congressman-turned lobbyist – Bart Stupak.  One of Stupak’s clients is Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Primatene Mist   Amphastar and its Armstrong Pharmaceuticals has engaged in a lobbying campaign to bring back the banned inhalers, more than a million of which are sitting in a warehouse in California.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee – Stupak was long a member of that panel, and like chairman Fred Upton, hails from Michigan -- approved the special-interest legislation September 14.  It is listed as the first order of business tomorrow on the House weekly schedule.  See below. 

This whole dirty deal looks like nothing but a payback to a former Congressional pal.  Health advocates are rightly outraged because there are non-CFC alternatives available.


On Tuesday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. 6190 - Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Energy and Commerce Committee)