DEJA-vu: Another Oil-Backed Attack on Public Health

June 20, 2012 | 12:24 pm
Michelle Robinson
Former Contributor

In less than 36 hours, Congress will once again be voting on your health.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will consider HR 4480 – Domestic Energy and Jobs Act – or DEJA. It’s aptly named, because as Yogi Berra would say, it certainly feels like “deja-vu all over again” – with fossil fuel lobbyists and their Congressional allies once again attempting to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency by  using false claims about the impacts that future standards could have on gas prices.

While providing no discernible impact on gas prices, Title II of the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act – which has been referred to as the Gasoline Regulations Act – would significantly diminish crucial public health benefits for all Americans. Among other provisions, this legislation would delay the “Control of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards” (or the Tier 3 program).

The Tier 3 program, currently being considered by the EPA, would reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and set fleet-wide emission limits on new vehicles. By addressing engines and fuels together, the Tier 3 program would realize more efficient and economical emission reductions than if treated separately.

The Tier 3 program would significantly cut emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. According to a study released by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) in October 2011, these reductions would avoid more than 400 premature deaths and 52,000 lost workdays each year. That same study finds that the cleaner gasoline needed to secure these clean air benefits would cost less than a penny a gallon.

Just last week, Navigant Economics confirmed the results of the NACAA study concluding that not only would reducing the sulfur content of fuel cost less  than one cent per gallon, but also that these costs would not be passed along to the consumer. Additionally, the study found that the Tier 3 program “would decrease smog, generate billions of dollars in health and economic benefits, and create thousands of new jobs.”

There’s no magic fix that will make gas cheaper overnight, but blocking science-based environmental regulations will not ease pain at the pump. Taking steps today to cut your own gasoline use and supporting a plan to cut projected U.S. oil use in half in 20 years will help insulate us from even higher gas prices as we scrape increasingly expensive and dirty oil from the bottom of the barrel.

Tell your Member of Congress: Don’t block standards that protect our health and the environment. Vote no on HR 4880 – the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act.