| WASHINGTON, March 28
WASHINGTON, March 28 The Obama administration
will propose on Friday long-awaited rules to slash smog-forming
emissions from gasoline that have been linked to lung and heart
ailments, health groups and a lawmaker briefed on the matter
said on Thursday.
The so-called Tier 3 rules to be proposed by the
Environmental Protection Agency will require refiners to reduce
the sulfur content of gasoline to 10 parts per million from the
current 30 ppm standard.
Oil industry groups, Republicans, and some conservative
Democrats have opposed the rules saying they would make gasoline
more expensive for consumers still struggling in the recovering
Refinery groups say the rules could cost that industry $14
billion to $15 billion a year. In addition, the American
Petroleum Institute, the main energy industry lobbying group,
has said the rules could increase refinery operating costs by up
to 9 cents per gallon.
But health groups say the rules will cut billions in
doctors' bills. A study released by Navigant Consulting last
year said the rules could cut healthcare costs for lung and
heart diseases by $5 billion to $6 billion a year by 2020 and
double that by 2030.
"This is the first big environmental initiative in the Obama
administration's second term," said Frank O'Donnell, president
of Clean Air Watch, who was briefed on Thursday. "It is the most
effective tool available to reduce smog.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, had
urged President Barack Obama to propose the rules back in 2010
and urged his administration to move quickly to finalize them.
"We've cleared a crucial step in the process, and I will
continue to urge the administration to move quickly to finalize
the rule this year," said Gillibrand, who also was briefed on
Republican lawmakers had tried to stop the rules. Ed
Whitfield, the chair of the House Energy and Power subcommittee,
introduced a bill last year to stop the EPA from issuing the
Tier 3 measures.
The rules are supported by many automakers who want
regulatory certainty and for federal rules to be harmonized with
strict regulations in California. The Auto Alliance, a group of
12 manufacturers, has said cutting sulfur content in gasoline
has side benefits including improving fuel efficiency and
reducing emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)