Proposed Rule Targets Emissions From Gasoline, Vehicles And Portable Gas Containers

On March 1, EPA announced proposed new emissions standards that seek to curb toxic fumes from gasoline, vehicles and gas containers.

By 2030 EPA's proposed Mobile Source Air Toxic (MSAT) regulations and fuel and vehicle standards already in place will reduce toxic emissions from passenger vehicles to 80 percent below 1999 emissions, agency officials said.

"America has a history of loving its cars," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By cleaning up our fuels and vehicle exhaust, EPA is paving the road toward a cleaner environment and healthier drivers."

The proposed MSAT standards would take effect in 2011 for fuel requirements, 2010 for passenger vehicles, and 2009 for fuel containers. The MSAT proposal would set new benzene standards for gasoline, hydrocarbon emissions standards for passenger vehicles at cold temperatures and evaporative standards for fuel containers. Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 350,000 tons, including 65,000 tons of benzene. The estimated annual cost for the entire proposal would be $205 million (the additional cost of producing gasoline to comply with the new benzene standard is expected to average $0.0013 per gallon). EPA estimates annual health benefits from the particulate matter reductions of the vehicle standards to total $6 billion in 2030.

Officials with the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said they are analyzing the proposal, with special attention paid to its potential impact on gasoline supply. "NPRA has consistently advocated a regulatory approach that balances the need for continued environmental progress with the important goal of maintaining the supply of America's transportation fuels, including gasoline and diesel," NPRA President Bob Slaughter said.

MSATs are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health or environmental effects. Benzene is of particular concern because it is a known carcinogen and most of the nation's benzene emissions come from mobile sources. People who live or work near major roads, or spend a large amount of time in vehicles, are likely to have higher exposures and higher risks. People living in homes with attached garages are also likely to be exposed to benzene levels that are higher than average, according to the agency.

Section 202(l) of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set standards to control hazardous air pollutants from motor vehicles, motor vehicle fuels, or both. EPA published a final rule under this authority in March 2001 that established toxics emissions performance standards for gasoline refiners and committed to additional rulemaking to evaluate the need for and feasibility of additional controls. This proposal fulfills that commitment from the 2001 rule.

In addition, EPA is proposing emission standards for gas cans under the consumer products authority of the Clean Air Act (section 183(e)).

A 60-day comment period will begin when the proposal is published in the Federal Register (EPA's Federal Register notices can be found at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/index.html). The proposal, supporting documentation, and information about submitting comments are online at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/toxics.htm#mobile.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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