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January 11, 2013

Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Air, Lives Saved

Now is the time to move forward with Tier 3 standards

Traffic2Here at the Sierra Club, we tend to believe that if you have the power to drastically reduce air pollution and save lives, you should use it.

That’s why we joined this week with manufacturers, investors, labor, and environmental groups urging President Obama to move forward with a new set of clean fuel and vehicle standards, known as “Tier 3.” These standards will both reduce the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline and significantly reduce tailpipe emissions from passenger vehicles, which contribute to asthma, cancer, heart attacks, and premature death.

While we’ve already come a long way towards improving the quality of air that we breathe, more than one third of Americans still live in areas where air pollution is higher than the EPA has determined safe. Passenger vehicles are one of the primary culprits in producing this dangerous pollution. The Tier 3 standards will have immediate, far-reaching impacts on reducing emissions from cars and drastically improving the air we breathe.

By lowering the sulfur content of gasoline, Tier 3 standards will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (a smog creating pollutant) by 260,000 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 33 million cars of the road. This change has the potential to prevent more than 400 premature deaths and 52,000 lost workdays each year. The annual savings in health costs of these standards will be over $5 billion in 2020 and $10 billion in 2030.

So what’s the catch?

Despite Big Oil’s claims to the contrary, there is only a small price tag associated with these standards. This program is estimated to cost less than one penny per gallon of gasoline. This price seems small considering the millions of Americans who will be able to breathe cleaner air as a result of this rule.

And what Big Oil really doesn’t want you to know is that on top of all these benefits, these standards will create 24,500 construction jobs over three years and over 5,000 long-term plant operation jobs. Overall, Tier 3 will add $6.1 billion to the U.S. GDP over the three-year investment period.

So what does Tier 3 mean? Cleaner cars. Cleaner air. Lives saved. Jobs created.

The Tier 3 standards are currently being discussed by the Obama administration. But they have not yet been formally proposed, and we’ve been waiting for them since 2010.

This should be a no-brainer: at little cost, the Obama administration has the power to drastically improve the quality of American lives across the country and stimulate the economy. Now is the time for the White House to move forward with the Tier 3 standards.

-- Jessica Eckdish, Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign

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