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.

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