EPA Finalizes Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards

on March 07, 2014 at 4:00 PM

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EPA’s finalized Tier 3 vehicle emissions and fuel standards will lower gasoline sulfur content by more than 60 percent in 2017.  

On March 3, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards program, reducing gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent – from 30 to 10 parts per million – in 2017. Considering the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system, the Tier 3 standards are designed to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars and trucks. The program will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, particulate matter by 70 percent, and toxic pollutants like benzene by up to 30 percent, and virtually eliminate fuel vapor emissions.


Estimated Emission Reductions from the Final Tier 3 Standards, Annual U.S. short tons (EPA)

According to EPA, the Tier 3 sulfur standard will enhance emissions control system effectiveness and vehicle catalyst efficiency. Lower sulfur level also facilitates lower-cost technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce gasoline consumption. The Tier 3 standards build on the success of the year 2000 Tier 2 program, which resulted in gasoline sulfur reductions of up to 90 percent and facilitated new vehicle emissions control technologies. Emissions reductions from Tier 3 standards will provide immediate air quality improvements that will help states attain and maintain the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

The Tier 3 program is projected to cost less than $0.01 per gallon of gasoline and approximately $72 per vehicle.  In 2030, the overall program’s projected annual cost will be approximately $1.5B, with $6.7B to $19B in estimated annual health benefits. The tailpipe standards provide several phase-in schedules between model years 2017 and 2025 and flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional compliance lead times.

The Tier 3 program is harmonized with California’s Low Emissions Vehicle program that allows automakers to sell the same vehicles across all U.S. states. Its implementation timeframe is aligned with the next phase of EPA’s light-duty vehicles emissions reduction program starting with vehicle model year 2017. EPA and California standards will maximize emissions reductions, provide regulatory certainty for automakers, streamline compliance, and reduce consumer costs.

In finalizing the Tier 3 standards, EPA considered more than 200,000 comments elicited by the March 2013 draft standards.

March 4, 2014 via Energy Solutions Forum.

Energy Solutions Forum is an energy policy research and data company based in New York City. Follow @EnergySolForum for policy research and stay plugged in with ESF Calendar, the industry’s go-to resource for energy business events in and around NYC.