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US Gov't Moves to Lower Tailpipe Pollution

Date: 12-Feb-07
Country: US
Author: US Gov't Moves to Lower Tailpipe Pollution

The regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency lower benzene in gasoline, reduce exhaust emissions from cars in cold temperatures and tighten fuel containers to prevent the escape of harmful fumes.

The new standards take effect in 2011 for gasoline, 2010 for cars and 2009 for fuel cans.

Benzene, which has been found to cause cancer, is put in gasoline to reduce knocking.

When the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to cut toxic emissions annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene, the EPA said.

As a result, passenger cars would spew 45 percent less benzene, gas cans would emit 78 percent less benzene and the gasoline would contain 37 percent less benzene overall.

It will cost industry about US$400 million to implement the regulations fully, but the health benefits from cleaner air should total about US$6 billion a year in 2030, the EPA said.

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

Under the regulations, the agency said refiners beginning in 2011 would have to meet an annual benzene content standard of 0.62 percent by volume on all their gasoline, both reformulated and conventional. The current national benzene content of gasoline is 0.97 percent.

California would continue to follow more stringent standards for gasoline sold in the state.

Separately, the regulations would reduce non-methane hydrocarbon exhaust emissions from new passenger vehicles when they operate in temperatures of less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The agency will also limit evaporating emissions from gas cans, like those that hold fuel for lawn and garden equipment. The EPA said it has worked closely with major gas can manufacturers and the new cans will have an inexpensive inner coating to comply with the new standards.

The group that represents state clean-air agencies welcomed the EPA regulations, saying almost every person in major metropolitan areas is exposed to unacceptably high levels of cancer-causing vehicle emissions and the new standards should "ensure more equitable health protection across the nation."

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