Tougher New Smog Rules on the Horizon

Tougher smog rules designed to cut emissions from autos and SUVs by 90 percent are in the
works. The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, to be phased in over five
years starting with 2004 models, will place the same emission standards on SUVs and light
trucks as cars. The so-called Tier II regulations represent the second phase of the 1990
Clean Air Act and is nationwide. The regulations call for cutting nitrogen oxide tailpipe
emissions from today’s 0.4 grams per mile for autos (and somewhat higher for SUVs) to 0.07
grams per mile for cars and most SUVs by 2007. The largest SUVs will have until 2009 to
comply. While these are fleet averages, the rules also cap the amount of pollution for any
vehicle group. The EPA estimates the regs might add about $100 to $160 to the price of a
car and as much as $200 to the price of SUVs and light trucks. Refineries nationwide will
also be required to lower the sulfur content in gasoline by 90 percent to an average of 30
parts per million. Low-sulfur gasoline is likely to cost several cents per gallon more, but
will result in immediate emission reductions because the cleaner fuel improves the efficacy
of smog-control devices on existing vehicles.


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