EPA — at last — is ready to publish Tier 3 rule

Source: Jason Plautz, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nearly two months after proposing a rule to lower sulfur levels in gasoline, U.S. EPA is set to publish it in the Federal Register tomorrow.

According to the 1,572-page pre-publication notice, the Tier 3 rule would “result in significant reductions in pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter and air toxics across the country and help state and local agencies in their efforts to attain and maintain health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”

The timing of the publication, 24 days before the comment period closes June 13, is sure to anger the oil industry, which has lashed out at EPA for moving ahead with the rule before publishing the full proposal in the Federal Register. The American Petroleum Institute has asked the agency to reset the comment period clock from when the rule is published and schedule another public hearing.

“The availability of a prepublication rule cannot be used as a reason to truncate the public comment period, especially when all of the supporting information (which is substantial), is not yet available,” API said in a letter earlier this month (Greenwire, May 8).

But EPA and environmentalists have said the full rule has been available online since it was proposed March 29.

API didn’t respond to a request for comment on this week’s publication.

The Tier 3 rule would require refiners to reduce the sulfur content in fuel from 30 parts per million to just 10 ppm by 2017.

Public health and environmental groups have strongly backed the Tier 3 rule, which they say would translate to the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road because of the reduced air pollution. In its notice, EPA says that “few other national strategies exist that would deliver the same magnitude of multi-pollutant reductions projected” from Tier 3.

Automakers have also backed the rule, which they say will help align the federal government with California’s fuel rules. Automakers have also argued that the lower-sulfur fuel will help them meet stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas reduction standards by allowing them to use better emissions technology.

EPA also says in its notice that the rules will raise the price of gas by a penny per gallon, although API and other fuel groups have said the cost will be between 6 and 9 cents per gallon.

Click here to read the Federal Register notice.