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EPA sets new Tier 3 emission, fuel standards

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WASHINGTON (March 4, 2014) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced its Tier 3 emissions and fuel standards for motor vehicles.

Starting in 2017, the Tier 3 standards will reduce tailpipe and evaporative emissions for passenger cars, light- and medium-duty vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles, the EPA announced March 3.

"Tier 3 sets new vehicle emissions standards and lowers the sulfur content of gasoline, considering the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system," the agency said.

The new standards slash emissions of volatile organic compounds by 80 percent, according to the EPA, particulate matter by 70 percent, benzene and other toxic pollutants by 30 percent, and fuel vapor emissions by nearly 100 percent.

By 2025, the Tier 3 standards will save Americans more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, or more than $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a single vehicle, the agency said. They also will prevent up to 2,000 premature deaths and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children every year, it said.

"These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said during a teleconference. "By working with the auto industry, health groups and other stakeholders, we're continuing to build on the Obama administration's clean fuels and vehicles efforts."

The Tier 3 tailpipe standards include varying phase-in schedules for different vehicle classes—generally spanning between model years 2017 and 2025, the EPA said. Vehicle makers will get credits for early compliance, and will be allowed to offset higher-polluting vehicles with extra-clean models, it said.

As for the gasoline sulfur standard, it will make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, the agency said.

The fuel sulfur standard includes an averaging, banking and trading (ABT) program that will allow oil refiners and importers to spread out their investments through an early credit program and rely on ongoing nationwide averaging to meet the standard, the EPA said.

Fact sheets on the Tier 3 standards can be found on the EPA website.

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