Groundswell of Support Continues for Cleaning Up Gasoline and Car-caused Smog

New polling demonstrates strong public support for tighter standards on gasoline and car tailpipes to reduce smog and other pollutants. The poll results bolster the calls from a diverse set of interests in business, health and environmental communities for the federal government to move forward with Tier 3 sulfur and pollution standards.

According to a poll released today by the American Lung Association, Americans want more protection for air quality. Of the 800 surveyed voters (across parties), “[a] 2-to-1 majority (62 to 32 percent) support EPA setting stricter standards on gasoline and tightening limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles.”

Some federal leaders have already heard the call from their constituents. As I described in an earlier post, a group of thirteen Senators urged that new standards be set. Echoing the call for action on Tier 3 was a recent joint letter from businesses, labor leaders and environmental groups.

State governors and public health advocates have also weighed in with letters, available here and here.

The automakers support Tier 3 standards too.

Fortunately, the Obama Administration is taking notice. Yesterday, the long overdue Tier 3 proposal from U.S. EPA to cut gasoline sulfur levels and strengthen new vehicle tailpipe standards for smog-forming pollutants like nitrogen oxides was sent for review at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Once the rule clears OMB—which has been targeted for March—it will be made available for public comment. This will be another important opportunity to lend your voice in support—and I’ll keep you posted on how to do it.

I won’t be surprised to see the oil industry ramp-up its efforts to kill these important standards that will clean our air. They will claim that the standards will cause a large jump in gasoline prices but analysis Navigant Economics has shown that the impact is likely less than a penny a gallon, if perceptible at all at the pump.

On the other hand, the pollution reductions achieved by the standard result in huge health benefits, estimated at over $5 billion per year by 2020 and over $10 billion per year by 2030. Note, also, that as soon as the gasoline sulfur is lowered, existing vehicles on the road will run cleaner. The instant pollution reduction will be equivalent to taking 33 million of today’s automobiles off the road.

As the polling released today shows, we value our health and know that it depends on clean air. It’s time to move quickly to adopt common-sense Tier 3 standards and make breathing easier for us and for future generations.  

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