Refiners fight back on new EPA tailpipe standards

Refiners are continuing their pushback on a proposed Environment Protection Agency rule critics say would increase prices at the pump without cleaning the air.

The proposed 377-page rule on tailpipe standards — called Tier 3 — would decrease the amount of sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent and the amount of nitrogen oxides by 80 percent.

However, refiners argue that the rule will add to manufacturing costs and increase fuel prices, all while doing little to improve air quality.

“Tier 3 is a reckless regulation, an unnecessary regulation, and, unfortunately, one of several new rules in the offing that collectively could put upward pressure on energy prices, discourage business expansion, and harm new job creation,” said Bob Greco, group director for downstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Council.

A study done for API found that the EPA’s new standards will raise gas prices up to 9 cents per gallon, and prices could rise up to 25 cents per gallon if the EPA adds another vapor pressure reduction regulation.

“Not only is EPA’s Tier 3 proposal not justified, it is illogical, as well. It will force refiners to invest in energy intensive sulfur reduction equipment that will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions,” said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. “The new rule could threaten the existence of some refineries while imposing a high-cost, minimal benefit regulatory requirement on America’s existing heavily regulated fuel supply.”

According to AFPM, refiners have already reduced their emissions by 90 percent since 2004, and the EPA’s own analysis shows that sulfur emissions would still decrease even without the Tier 3 rules.

“We understand that the general public isn’t likely to be concerned about increased regulations and costs to refiners, but Tier 3 will ultimately be an additional economic burden to consumers at the pump,” Drevna said.

However, the EPA says gas prices will be raised by less than a penny per gallon and yield more than $10 billion annually in health cost savings by 2030 due to reduced sulfur emissions.

“These common-sense standards will save lives, save money and clean up our air — all at a minimal cost,” said Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. “Big Oil companies want us to believe these benefits aren’t worth it. But that’s because they care about profits above all else.”

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