API urges longer compliance period if EPA adopts Tier 3 proposal

The American Petroleum Institute will ask the US Environmental Protection Agency to give refiners at least two more years to comply if the federal regulator adopts proposed Tier 3 vehicle emissions control requirements, an API official said.

API’s primary recommendation when it comments on the proposal on June 28 will be that it be withdrawn because it’s costly and unnecessary, noted Bob Greco, the trade association’s downstream and industry operations group director. “However, if EPA continues on this flawed path, we’re urging the agency to improve its proposed rule in several ways,” he told reporters in a June 27 teleconference.

It erroneously assumed refiners would need only 3 years to comply because they’ve already begun to make the necessary changes based on talk about what EPA was proposing, Greco said. The implementation clock should begin only after all elements of the rule are clear, which is when the final rule is issued, he maintained.

“Five years are needed from that point,” Greco said. “Anything less would make it harder to secure contractors and equipment at competitive rates, optimize solutions, get the required government permits, and align construction projects with existing maintenance turn-around schedules.

“Starting the clock before the rule is final, combined with rushed implementation, could increase compliance costs,” he warned.

EPA should also designate gasoline with a 10% ethanol blend, instead of one with 15% ethanol, because it’s more widely available and won’t violate engine manufacturers’ warrants, Greco said. It also should not reduce the sulfur cap – particularly if it insists on reducing average sulfur levels in gasoline – because this would billions of dollars more in compliance costs and potentially could reduce supplies, he indicated.

Greco reiterated API’s position that EPA’s Tier 3 proposal is unnecessary because the existing Tier 2 program’s benefits are just beginning to emerge, and its contributions potentially could be as much as what EPA anticipates from its Tier 3 proposal without the additional costs.

“EPA is a regulatory agency. Issuing rules is its job,” he said. “But its formula for deciding on new regulations has become disconnected from common sense and sound science. This must be corrected if we want to avoid unnecessary long-term harm to the economy. A good first step would be to pull back the Tier 3 rule.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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