EPA Sets Limits for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Gasoline, Vehicles and Portable Fuel Containers

On Feb. 9, EPA announced the finalization of new standards that would establish stringent new controls on gasoline, passenger vehicles and gas cans to further reduce emissions of benzene and other mobile source air toxics.

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

"Americans love their cars. By clearing the air from tons of fuel and exhaust pollution, President Bush and EPA are paving the road toward healthier drivers and a cleaner environment," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

The MSAT rule toughens benzene standards for gasoline, sets hydrocarbon emissions standards for cars at cold temperatures and tightens fuel containers to prevent the evaporation of harmful fumes.

Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene. EPA estimates annual health benefits from the particulate matter reductions of the vehicle standards to total $6 billion in 2030.

The additional cost of producing gasoline to comply with the new benzene standard is expected to average $0.0027 per gallon. This per-gallon cost would result from an average of $14 million in capital investment in each refinery that adds equipment to reduce gasoline benzene levels.

EPA estimates that the annual net social costs of this rule will be approximately $400 million in 2030 (expressed in 2003 dollars). These net social costs include the value of gasoline savings from the new fuel container standards, which is estimated to be worth $92 million in 2030.

The agency also estimates that the additional cost to manufacturers will be less than $1 per vehicle. The costs will be associated with vehicle research and development and recalibration, as well as facilities upgrades to handle additional development testing under cold conditions. Officials said they are not anticipating additional costs for the new vehicle evaporative emissions standard since manufacturers will likely continue to produce 50-state evaporative systems that meet California's standards.

The average additional cost of producing portable fuel containers that comply with the new standards will be less than $2 per can. The reduced evaporation from containers will result in gasoline savings over the life of the container that will more than offset the increased cost for the container.

For additional information, go to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/toxics.htm#regdocs.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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