Industry complaints spur EPA to extend Tier 3 comment period

Source: Jason Plautz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013

In the face of complaints from the oil industry and conservative groups, U.S. EPA said today it expects to extend the comment period by 17 days for its Tier 3 rule lowering the sulfur content of gasoline.

In a decision that will not be finalized until next week, the comment period would end July 1, not June 13 as originally scheduled, the agency said. There would not be an additional public hearing.

“The extension of the comment period allows additional time for industry and the public to provide comment on the proposed rule,” an EPA spokesman said.

The American Petroleum Institute and other Tier 3 foes had said EPA was violating Clean Air Act rules by starting the comment period for the rule based on a Federal Register notice announcing public hearings on the rule, not on the actual publication of the rule. The full rule was published Tuesday, leaving 23 days in the comment period.

Patrick Kelly, API’s downstream senior policy adviser, said today that the “paltry extension” was “still unreasonable given the size and complexity of the proposal.”

In a letter sent today to EPA air chief Gina McCarthy, the Institute for Energy Research said the original comment period failed to “give the American people sufficient time to comment on this complex and expensive regulation.”

When told of the extension, IER spokesman Ben Cole called it a “responsible decision” but added the group would wait to see the details.

“We’re going to do everything we can to engage as many interested parties to be aware of what’s happening and to engage in the rulemaking process,” Cole said.