Category Archives: Clean Car Standards

Newly Released Vehicle and Fuel Standards Will Clean Up U.S. Fleet and Improve Texas Air Quality

Source: Green Mountain Energy Cleaner Times

Source: Green Mountain Energy Cleaner Times

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released updated Tier 3 vehicle emissions and fuel standards. The new standards are an update to the successful Tier 2 performance standards, which were finalized in 2000. Like the legacy Tier 2 program, the new Tier 3 standards will look at vehicles and fuels as a combined system to reduce both tailpipe pollution and gasoline sulfur content, improving urban air quality and saving billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Despite Tier 3’s projected benefits, lawmakers, and oil industry groups insist the standards are too costly. Of course, they fail to count the lasting health benefits from Tier 3—which more than outweigh the cost of the program.

The Benefits

The new fuel standards will instantly reduce emissions from every vehicle on the road once they are implemented in 2017, by reducing the amount of sulfur permitted in gasoline to 10 parts per million. Furthermore, the new vehicle tailpipe standards will cut smog-forming emissions by over 20 percent and fine particulate matter by 10 percent by 2030. EPA projects these vital emissions reductions will prevent between 770 and 2,000 premature deaths, 2,200 hospital admissions, and 19,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030, providing approximately $6.7 – $19 billion in annual health benefits. All of these benefits come at the low cost of less than one additional cent per gallon of gasoline, or about $72 per vehicle. Read More »

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Why Do Latinos Support Action on Climate Change?

Source: Mom's Clean Air Force

Your abuela or your friend’s abuela may not mention “carbon pollution” or “greenhouse gas emissions” much, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Hispanics are not aware of or unconcerned with what is happening to our planet. In fact, polling confirms that Latinos overwhelmingly support action to curb climate change. A recent poll for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Latino Decisions shows that 80 percent of Latino voters somewhat-to-strongly favor Presidential action to fight carbon pollution.

Why? Family values.

The reasons are similar to those held by many interested in protecting the planet for future generations. The poll proves that Latinos are concerned about air quality, health effects of a worsening environment and teaching a cultural legacy of environmental stewardship and conservation. Read More »

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Common Sense Policies Can Protect Thousands of Houston Schoolchildren from Roadway Air Pollution

Source: Campaign for Clean Air

Source: Campaign for Clean Air

Recently, the Houston Chronicle published an article showing that over 80,000 schoolchildren at 127 schools are frequently exposed to air pollution due to their proximity to busy roadways. Houston, in particular, is vulnerable to the formation of unhealthy air pollution, given the city is home to one of the busiest ports in the country and some of the busiest roadways, and emissions from all those vehicles tend to pool around the streets locals use most. But what’s critical to note is that exposure to this kind of pollution is especially harmful for our young ones, as children breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults. Now, with these staggering figures, it’s clear that something must be done to protect Houston children from the dangers of vehicle pollution.

In total, 127 Houston-area schools were found to be located within 200 meters of a roadway, the distance within which traffic-related pollution is most potent. The accumulation of these emissions, which contain nitrous oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), form ozone pollution under the right conditions—usually on warm, sunny days. With no shortage of vehicles emissions or sunlight, the city is definitely a hot spot for ozone pollution and Houstonians are faced with increased health risks. Read More »

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2013 Texas Air Quality: Year In Review

Elena CraftAs we come to the end of another year, we look back on the progress that has been made to improve Texas’ air quality. Our work is especially important in Texas. Ozone pollution in the state’s largest cities routinely spikes above healthy levels, and Texas leads the nation in annual carbon emissions.

Throughout 2013, my fellow bloggers and I tracked the critical progress made towards cleaner air in Texas. Texas experienced a handful of victories and a handful of losses. To summarize the year, I’ll discuss a few of the areas where we made progress, and a few of the areas where there is still more work to do.

Progress Toward Smart Power and Clean Air

Over the past year, Texas wind power continued its promising positive trend, thanks in part to the state’s forward-looking decision to build new high-capacity electricity transmission lines linking the windy plains of West Texas with the state’s cities. The Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission project was approved by the state in 2008, and the new power lines are set to come online in a few weeks. The new power lines can carry 18,500 megawatts of electricity—enough to power millions of homes. The CREZ lines will help ensure Texas wind energy continues to expand, offsetting electricity produced from fossil-fuel power plants and reducing pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Ozone, Renewable Energy, Wind| Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Outdoor Air Pollution Officially Labeled A Leading Environmental Cause of Cancer

Source: Webmd

For years, scientists have explored the links between excess air pollution and health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and even cancer. Recently, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the specific relationship between air pollution and occurrence of lung cancer in humans. IARC reviewed over 1,000 scientific papers from five continents and concluded that there is a clear relationship between exposure to everyday air pollution and lung cancer.

Based on the results of the evaluation, the WHO officially classifies outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans – listing air pollution alongside other carcinogens like formaldehyde, plutonium and asbestos. According to IARC officials, breathing in polluted air was found to be very similar to breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, depending on one’s level of exposure. But unlike tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollution is often unavoidable.

The most common sources of air pollution are transportation, fossil fuel power plants, industrial and agricultural emissions and residential heating and cooking—all of which are a part of everyday life in most parts of the world. Because almost all of us are exposed to these pollutants, the occurrence for cancer-related death is quite high. In fact, the most recent data indicate that in 2010 alone 223,000 lung cancer deaths resulted from air pollution.  The most devastating thing about these numbers is that these are all preventable deaths. Read More »

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Clean Truck Initiatives Hit The Road In Texas And Make A Personal Impact

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Courtesy of Juan Manuel Salazar

The following story about the clean truck program in Houston appears in the Fall 2013 issue of EDF’s Solutions newsletter. As we have highlighted before, ports are hotspots for air pollution and the best way to mitigate emissions from ships, trucks and other transportation equipment is to engage key stakeholders and find common sense solutions that provide access to cleaner, more efficient technologies. Below is a success story from Houston: Since the H-GAC Drayage Loan Program began in 2010, it has replaced almost 200 of the oldest, most polluting trucks with newer, cleaner ones. 

When Juan Manuel Salazar was hauling industrial materials all over Houston in his 1989 International truck, his two daughters worried. “They were concerned about me driving all day, then working half the night to fix the truck,” Salazar says. So it was no surprise that, as an owner-operator, Salazar jumped to qualify for a combined grant and low-interest loan program tailored by EDF and its partners such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Salazar invested in a cleaner 2012 Kenworth truck that uses less gas and goes farther without problems. “My daughters convinced me,” he says.

A few years before, an emissions inventory found that one-third of the toxic air pollution at the Port of Houston was spewed out by its 3,000-truck drayage fleet. The result was the loan program. Since its creation, almost 200 trucks in Houston have been updated. Read More »

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D.C. Circuit Court Rejects More Protective Ozone Standards

I’ve written extensively about the potentially grave health effects of ground-level ozone (smog) and the need for stronger standards to address ozone pollution.  In 2008, the EPA set a national standard for ozone at 75 parts per billion—despite the fact that the nation’s leading medical societies and the EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) warned that the standard was not stringent enough to protect Americans from adverse health effects.  A number of U.S. cities and counties petitioned the EPA to amend the standards to sufficient levels.  EDF joined the call for common-sense ozone standards, partnering with the National Resources Defense Council, American Lung Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Appalachian Mountain Club and Earthjustice to press for a more protective standard.

Last week, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected petitions for a more protective air quality standard for ground-level ozone.  The decision is deeply disappointing and in direct contradiction of ample scientific evidence showing the health hazards of ozone pollution at levels below the current standards.

Reasonable ozone standards are of particular importance to Texans.  Ozone tends to form from vehicle tailpipe emissions on hot sunny days—so it’s no surprise that a typical Texas summer day is a perfect incubator for ozone gas.  Texas has some of the highest ozone levels in the nation.  The American Lung association identified a number of Texas cities and counties as ozone danger areas—including Houston and Dallas, two of the largest cities in the United States. Read More »

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Bigger Is Better: Texas-Size Benefits From Tier 3

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected final comments on the proposed Tier 3 vehicle emission and fuel standards. EPA is expected to finalize the standards by the end of the year, enabling automakers to gear up to meet the standards. The anticipated standards, which go into effect in 2017, will reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and tighten emission controls on new passenger vehicles going forward.

These standards will reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and tighten emission controls on new passenger vehicles going forward. With over 19 million cars and trucks on the road, Texas stands to benefit a great deal from the new vehicle regulations.

The American Lung Association’s (ALA’s) 2013 State of the Air report revealed the grim state of air quality in the Lone Star State, placing both Houston and Dallas in the top 10 most ozone-polluted cities in the country. In total, 15 Texas counties received a grade of “F” for ozone pollution. Despite these findings, we believe that Texas has the potential to reduce air pollution throughout the state, and that the EPA’s proposed Tier 3 vehicle emission rules will help.

The ALA’s primary recommendation to address excessive air pollution comes in the form of new regulations on vehicle tailpipe emissions. Unlike power plants and larger industrial facilities, tailpipes release their emissions at ground level in densely populated areas. Thus, busy roadways are an especially hazardous source of air pollution. Many roadways stand as a round-the-clock source of nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and particulate matter. This puts those who live or work near highways and expressways at greater risk. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston| Tagged | Comments closed

New Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions Standards Offer Huge Step Forward For Clean Air In Texas

Immediate Reductions Are Equivalent To Taking One In Eight Cars Off the Road


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released updated national vehicle emissions and fuel standards, commonly referred to as Tier 3, which will reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and establish stronger tailpipe emission limits on new passenger vehicles.

These measures will directly reduce toxic air pollutants, soot and smog – or ground level ozone as it is otherwise called – and at a low cost. Tier 3 is supported by state health officials, automakers, the emissions control industry, health and environmental groups, and national recreation groups because it will help protect public health, provide greater regulatory certainty for the automobile industry, and create jobs in refineries and manufacturing.  Furthermore, the additional cost to consumers of the cleaner gasoline will be less than a penny a gallon.

Why is Tier 3 important? Passenger vehicles are the second largest emitters of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds in the U.S. – the two primary pollutants that form ozone. Cars and light trucks also emit more than half of all carbon monoxide pollution, and contribute significantly to dangerous and sometimes lethal particulate matter emissions.  One of the Tier 3 supporters, Honda’s Senior Manager of Environment & Energy Strategy, Robert Bienenfeld explains that Tier 3 regulations will “enable a single national fleet to address all emissions regulations, and to reduce real-world emissions and improve public health.”

The benefit to the public will come from a dramatic and immediate cut in air pollution just from the sulfur reduction in gasoline alone – comparable to taking 33 million vehicles or one in eight cars off the road, according to National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).  Couple the fuel standards with the tailpipe standards and they will together reduce national motor vehicle emissions of NOx, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds by 29, 38 and 26 percent respectively.

Bill Becker, the Executive Director of NACAA, notes that “There is no rule that will provide states and localities with as significant and as expeditious reductions in NOx as the Tier 3 regulations.” And when you think of Texas, a state with approximately 19,175,000 cars and trucks  driving across 80,000 miles of road, you can expect to see a significant air quality improvement.

It is safe to say that Texas is in need of cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks.  First, as we have reported many times, Texas is a high risk area for ozone health threats.  Last year, Texas exceeded ‘health-based’ ozone limits over 120 times in the larger metropolitan areas.  Second, Texas keeps growing, and with a rise in population comes a rise in the number of cars on the road as well as the associated health risks.  Luckily, Texas citizens are in a position to take control of their everyday car usage and shift gears on the type of car to buy. Hybrid and electric vehicles are clean alternatives and are becoming more popular in the state. And advanced technologies for gasoline and diesel vehicles are driving up miles per gallon (MPG) to help Texans capture fuel cost savings, despite the state’s challenges to fuel efficiency improvements.   There are other ways Texans can offset car pollution and save money – they can drive less, use public transportation and push local governments for clean, fuel-efficient programs. From a health perspective, cleaner cars mean cleaner air and improved health for Texas citizens.

Click here to find out more ways to reduce your own car footprint, limit gasoline usage and save money at the pump.

Also posted in Air Pollution, Ozone, Transportation| Comments closed

Court Upholds Historic EPA Actions, Rebukes Texas' Lawsuits To Undermine Health Protections


This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a unanimous opinion affirming EPA’s protective carbon pollution standards issued under the Clean Air Act.  The Court upheld EPA’s science-based finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare (the “Endangerment Finding”) and the Clean Car Standards.    The court also dismissed petitions challenging the requirement for large industrial sources to install modern cost-effective solutions to address greenhouse gases and EPA's common sense approach to inoculate small sources.  

Today’s ruling underscores what we have long known — that EPA’s climate protections are firmly grounded in science and law and will help secure a healthier, more prosperous future for all Americans.

EDF's press statement is appended below. 

The court's opinion is unanimous, strong, and emphatic.  Unfortunately, the lawsuits to obstruct these vital protections were brought by Texas and others. In today’s opinion, the court thoroughly rebuked those, like Texas, who attack science and obstruct progress in reducing climate pollution, noting “[t]his is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

Environmental Defense Fund, together with a large coalition of states and environmental organizations, intervened in defense of the clean air protections. Those protections include:  

  • The Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding, in which EPA – following the Supreme Court’s order in Massachusetts v. EPA – determined that climate pollution endangers human health and welfare on the basis of a rigorous review of the extensive body of climate science.
  • The Clean Car Standards, which establish cost-saving fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The standards are supported by U.S. auto makers and the United Auto Workers union, among others. They will save Americans thousands of dollars at the gas pump by enabling families to get more mileage out of each gallon of gas. They will also help break our nation's addiction to imported oil and will cut the amount of dangerous pollution from vehicles.
  • Carbon Pollution Limits for Big New Power Plants and Industrial Sources (the Timing and Tailoring Rules), in which EPA is phasing-in requirements for use of the best available cost-effective pollution controls, starting with new, large industrial emitters (like power plants) while shielding smaller emitters.

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, GHGs, Oil| 1 Response, comments now closed
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