The EPA and the Obama Administration are unveiling new fuel standards that promise to lower sulfur emissions from U.S. gasoline. It is a bid to lower the growing problem of smog pollution and associated health effects including asthma and emphysema.

Environmental advocates are hailing the move, saying that removing sulfur from gasoline allows the anti-pollution technology in vehicles to actually work. Sulfur is known to interfere with pollution-control technology on automobiles and increase emissions.

The other side of the aisle is the oil industry. They say the new rules will lead to increased costs due to the changes they will have to make to refineries. That’s not an overly surprising statement, and the industry says the costs could be as much as 9 cents per gallon.

Of course, like all government rules, this one takes place in some distant future when Elon Musk will have GigaFactories dotting the landscape. “These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in the announcement. The rules go fully into effect in 2030. Why be in any rush considering the rules are supposed to prevent 2,000 deaths each year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children each year?

EPA cost estimates put the price of gasoline going up less than a penny with a 60% reduction in sulfur levels in gasoline. The cost of a brand new automobile will average out to a $72 increase. The oil industry’s reticence to the rules are based off the 2013 proposals, not the final rules, which give them 6 years for compliance.

The new standards are a culmination of years of the EPA working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. It came at the 2010 request from President Obama to work on tougher fuel standards.

These new sulfur rules will be implemented alongside new greenhouse emission rules for cars and light trucks drawn up by the EPA. The new standards across the board are expected to cut harmful air pollutants and reduce smog issues in urban areas.


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