Last year, new automobile emissions regulations focused on fuel consumption, but this year’s proposal is addressing the fuel itself.
Carbon dioxide isn’t the only product of the combustion of gasoline. Sulfur dioxide can also form at high temperatures in the combustion chamber. In the atmosphere, oxidized with nitrogen oxide, can form sulfuric acid, which comes down as acid rain. Sulfur dioxide also severely impacts air quality and is directly related to smog and soot. The US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] is proposing to reduce fuel sulfur content 60% by 2017 in all fifty States, which will significantly reduce automobile emissions of sulfur dioxide and the formation of smog and soot.
Petroleum companies and Republicans [surprise!] insist that reducing sulfur content will add 9¢/gal to current fuel prices, but the EPA estimates that it’ll only add a couple cents. Environmentalists, on the other hand, praise the Obama Administration for another significant reduction in automobile emissions. “We know of no other air pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emissions reductions,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker also remarked that the sulfur reduction would be the equivalent of removing 33 million cars from the road.