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EPA cleans up gasoline to celebrate Earth Day

Consumer Reports News: April 22, 2013 04:38 PM

For cars to get cleaner, gasoline has to get cleaner. That's the premise of new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that require refiners to cut 80 percent of the sulfur out of gasoline by 2017, and for automakers to make corresponding improvements in vehicle emissions.

The benefits to public health and air quality far outweigh the cost, and Consumers Union, the advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, is issuing public comments in support of the rule. (Show your support for the clean-car plan.)

The rule, known as Tier3, is the next iteration of similar guidelines that reduced sulfur content in gasoline and diesel fuel in 2000. According to the EPA, by 2030, the effects of cleaner fuel and tailpipe standards could help prevent between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths, 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, 22,000 asthma attacks, 23,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms in children, and 1.8 million lost work and school days, and days of reduced-activity for some people.

Even so, the American Petroleum Institute has criticized the rules, saying they will drive up gas prices by as much as 9 cents a gallon. The EPA, however, pegs any increase at about 1 cent per gallon.

To learn more about saving gas, visit our guide to fuel economy.

In public testimony at the EPA supporting the new standards, Consumers Union Policy Analyst Shannon Baker-Branstetter explained that addressing gasoline and vehicles together as a system would make reducing pollution more cost effective. She continued to say that it would be pennywise, tons foolish to save a cent on gasoline, only to have to pay even more with our health as a result of additional tons of pollution.

To put the cost in perspective, gasoline prices fluctuated over $2.25 dollars/gallon over the last four years, with weekly increases of 10 cents happening with regularity. Meanwhile, fuel economy standards are poised to save consumers the equivalent of $1.30/gallon by 2025.

We feel this move brings many benefits to consumers and indeed the nation. Simply put, Consumer Reports supports gas cleanup to celebrate Earth Day.

Discuss fuel economy in our forums.

Eric Evarts

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