EPA to publish draft low-sulfur gas rule

Interested parties and members of the public have until June 13 to weigh in on the 1572-page proposal to require lower sulfur content in fuel.

First announced on March 29, the contentious proposal endeavors to reduce smog, soot and toxic pollution. Refiners would be forced to lower sulfur content of gasoline by more than 60 percent to 10 parts per million by 2017.

The requirements spelled out in the so-called “Tier 3” gasoline standards are intended to improve the performance of catalytic converters.

“Few other national strategies exist that would deliver the same magnitude of multi-pollutant reductions projected to result from the proposed Tier 3 standards,” the EPA contends in its proposal.

More than 158 million Americans currently experience unhealthy levels of air pollution linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems, according to the agency.

Motor vehicles are seen as an important source of the pollution.

“More than 50 million people live, work, or go to school in close proximity to high-traffic roadways, and the average American spends more than one hour traveling along roads each day,” the EPA reasons.

While automakers have backed the rule, the powerful American Petroleum Industry opposes them, warning the regulations would lead to higher gas prices for consumers.

The EPA maintains the rule would increase pump prices by less than a penny per gallon. 

This story was published at 10:26 a.m. and updated at 12:08 p.m. to correct the date the rule was initially proposed.