The Obama administration proposed on Friday new and more costly
regulations of the refining industry to produce cleaner gasoline and
If the new rules are implemented as scheduled in 2017, the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, they will spare
thousands of people from premature death and prevent respiratory
problems in tens of thousands of children. The cost: on average less
than a penny gallon.
Not so, says the oil industry, which has been battling the EPA
over the proposed rules. The new rules will add as much as nine
cents a gallon to the cost of making fuel and will produce ambiguous
results, says The American Petroleum Institute. API, the industrys
lobbying arm in Washington, refers to the proposed new rules as part
of a tsunami of regulations the industry faces this year that could
add as much as 65 cents to the cost of producing a gallon of fuel in
Gasoline prices are politically sensitive. Consumers often know
how much they have paid for a gallon of gasoline compared with their
prior fill-up. When pump prices are rising, consumers grumble and,
if prices get high enough, cut back on other discretionary
purchases. As a result, economists refer to rising fuel prices as a
tax on the economy.
But will Americans pay more for fuel and smile about if they
believe it will result in cleaner air?
Some will, but the majority wont, answers Tom Kloza, chief oil
analyst at GasBuddy.com. There is a sense among a lot of people that
we are entitled to cheaper fuel prices than the rest of the world.
The proposed changes would make US standards the same as most of
Europe, Japan, and South Korea, Mr. Kloza says. We would be joining
45 other countries with tougher fuel standards, he says.
Republicans quickly attacked the proposed regulation. The Obama
Administration is modeling our regulations after California, which
has the worst economy in the nation, and todays announcement is
essentially a guaranteed energy tax hike and unfortunately is just
one of many radical policies coming out of this Administration that
will deal a heavy blow to middle-class families and small
businesses, said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the
Republican Study Committee, in a statement.
In January, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, often associated
with Democratic issues, conducted what it termed a bipartisan survey
of 800 registered voters for the American Lung Association on
whether Americans favored tougher fuel regulations and improved
antipollution laws. It found 62 percent of voters supported new
gasoline and vehicle standards, and 32 percent opposed them.
If the new rules are implemented as proposed, the EPA says, the
new standards would cut smog-producing chemicals by 80 percent, cut
down on particulate matter by 70 percent, and reduce vapor emissions
to near zero.
In the case of sulfur, one culprit in producing smog, the new
standard would cut the emission to 10 parts per million in 2017
compared with the current standard of 30 parts per million. Only
eight years ago the standard was 300 parts per million.
Implementing the new standards will, by 2030, avoid 2,400
premature deaths per year, 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in
children, 3,200 hospital admissions, and 1.8 million lost school
days, work days, and days when activities would be restricted due to
air pollution, the EPA estimates. …