EPA finalizes standards to reduce car emissions

Mar 5, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized its federal emission standards for cars and gasoline Monday, putting them in line with programs already in place in California.

The cleaner fuel and car standards will be rolled out starting in 2017. Once fully in place, the EPA estimates they’ll lower overall pollution levels and help avoid up to 2,000 early deaths per year.

Art Handy, with the American Lung Association of the Northeast, says the cleaner fuel will be slightly more expensive, but taxpayers should see significant savings through the public health sector.

“You start to look at all of those things added up and it’s a real opportunity for people both to live a higher quality of life, but also it saves work places and your individual person here, I think, money on the other end of that,” Handy says.

The EPA expects new regulations on gasoline to raise the price by less than a penny per gallon, and officials say new vehicle standards are expected to have a cost of about $72 per car in 2025.

However, the agency says improving fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gases from vehicles will result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 over a vehicle’s lifetime by 2025.

Once cars with lower emissions standards have been rolled out and integrated with the cleaner fuel, the EPA expects to see a large drop in the number of asthma-related absentee days at schools and workplaces.

By 2030, the EPA estimates health-related benefits will total between $6.7 and $19 billion annually.

Handy says the new standards will slash emissions of a range of harmful pollutants, including gasoline sulfur levels and benzene. But, he says, there’s always more that can be done.

“I don’t want to say it’s not enough, because I think, again, I’m excited to see this standard finally getting into place and moving forward," Handy says. "But I think we’re going to want to continue to watch for ways to help protect our kids and other vulnerable people from the particulates and other pollutants that are out there.”

The finalized standards will bring the rest of the nation in line with the clean cars and fuels programs in California and allow for a consistent nationwide vehicle emissions program.