The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has drawn sharp criticism from conservative members of Congress with its proposal for tighter restrictions on sulfur in gasoline and pollution from cars and trucks. Opponents say such measures would increase gas prices and put a financial burden on refineries. The EPA responded by claiming the restrictions would add less than a penny to the price of each gallon of gas. It also insisted the reduction in pollution would prevent as many as 2,400 deaths a year and save $8 billion to $23 billion a year in health costs by 2030.
Gasoline sulfur itself does not pose a public-health threat, but it hampers the effectiveness of catalytic converters, which in turn leads to greater tailpipe emissions. These emissions contain nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and fine particles which contribute to smog and soot, which can cause respiratory and heart disease.
“Today’s proposed standards — which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable — are the next step in our work to protect public health and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states,” acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe said.
Car company executives have expressed support for the measure, saying that it will cut production costs for them.