A Breath of Fresh Air
New Tier 3 Standards will be like taking 33 million cars off the road
March 3 was a banner day for everyone that lives in a U.S. metropolitan area, especially children, the elderly, and anyone who suffers from asthma, heart or lung disease, or exercises outdoors. After years of study, EPA announced the new Tier 3 standards, which will significantly reduce tailpipe emissions of smog and soot from vehicles.
By reducing the sulfur content of fuels starting in 2017, the standards will reduce smog-forming pollution by 80%, and soot by 70%, which will annually prevent up to 2,000 premature deaths and 1.4 million days of missed school, work and activity restrictions. As an added bonus, the lower-sulfur gasoline will help automakers meet the new fuel economy standards and older vehicles will run cleaner. The implications of these standards are staggering; their implementation will cut air pollution by the same amount as taking 33 million cars off the road.
The new standards will also generate significant economic benefits; the monetized health benefits in 2030 are an estimated $6.7 billion to $19 billion a year, two to seven times the costs. The standards are expected to generate thousands of new jobs in the refinery industry, as well as the auto industry. The standards are supported by a wide range of stakeholders, including the auto industry, state and local officials, and public health, labor, faith and environmental groups, and are opposed only by the oil industry.
Members of Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) and members of our BICEP business coalition (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) also recognized the benefits of the standards and testified at hearings, submitted comment letters, and met with policymakers in support of the standards. “EPA’s deliberate and thoughtful decision on the Tier 3 standards brings the U.S. up to speed with the rest of the world on low-sulfur fuels with benefits that far outweigh the costs,” said Paul Bugala, Senior Sustainability Analyst for Extractive Industries at Calvert Investments, which manages $13.1 billion.
These cost effective standards show that smart energy policies can benefit the public, the environment and the economy at the same time. We’ll be seeing significant quality of life and health improvements for thousands of people, huge savings in public health costs, and increased investment in key industries. On top of that, we’ll all be breathing a little easier.