by Mitch Hescox
When it comes to protecting human health, especially vulnerable populations like kids and the elderly, who are you going to believe, the American Lung Association (ALA), or the American Petroleum Institute (API)? Are you going to believe those who have a vested, financial interest in maintaining the status quo like the oil corporations? Or folks who are fighting to protect human health?
We at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) are proud once again to stand with our friends and colleagues at the American Lung Association (ALA) to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fulfill its obligation to protect our kids and the vulnerable from dangerous, life-threatening pollution.
What we're talking about today is a proposed EPA regulation to get more sulfur out of gasoline, the so-called "Tier-3" standards.
Compared to other countries, we've fallen significantly behind in reducing sulfur, ranking 47th, just behind Thailand. No disrespect to Thailand, but we can do better.
It's well past time for the entire country to meet a standard that is already in place in California, the European Union, and Japan -- and that's what the EPA has proposed.
A recent report from the ALA concluded that cleaning up the gasoline we put in our tanks would cost us about a penny a gallon, and improving the ability of new vehicles to reduce such pollution would add about $150 to the sticker price.
Here's what health benefits we'll get for this investment:
This last point brings up one of the great things about making the gasoline cleaner: we don't have to put new emissions control equipment on our existing cars, or buy a new car, to get cleaner air. Cleaner gas in, less pollution out. From day one. Pretty simple.
As the car companies put it in their testimony in favor of EPA's proposed Tier 3 regulations:
While it will take a couple of decades for the current fleet to be replaced by vehicles with tighter emission controls, reducing sulfur at the pump will immediately reduce emissions from every gasoline-powered vehicle on our roads, no matter how old (p.2).
But that's not all.
As the car companies further pointed out, removing more of the sulfur from gasoline will help improve gas mileage in new vehicles, saving folks money at the pump and reducing global warming pollution to boot.
So what's not to love?
Well, as you can imagine, the oil companies are not happy with having to clean up their gasoline. Last spring during the run up to the elections when gas prices were high the American Petroleum Institute sponsored a study saying that doing so would cost 25 cents at the pump. Some politicians tried to make political hay out of this, but even at the time it was pointed out that this particular study wasn't modeling what EPA was planning to propose. Now that the EPA has put out their proposed Tier 3 rule, this industry-sponsored study has been revised.
What did it find? The cost of producing a gallon of gas would go up 6 to 9 cents.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you would necessarily pay that cost. Oil prices are set in a world market, so competition could mean that U.S. refineries would have to absorb such costs, meaning less profits for them.
As mentioned earlier, the American Lung Association found that the cost would be about a penny a gallon.
So what would this cost the average consumer? Let's err on the high side and say that it would cost 5 cents a gallon. The average consumer uses about 10.4 gallons a week. Let's make that a little higher and say 12 gallons. So 5 cents times 12 equals 60 cents.
So would you be willing to pay anywhere from 12 cents to 60 cents a week to protect our kids from dangerous air pollution? For us that's an absolute no-brainer.
And if that doesn't do it for you, think about this. Where's a place where there's lots of sulfur in the air? (Hint: fire and brimstone.) How about we make our air less like that of H-E-DOUBLE-TOOTH-PICS. Here at EEN, we're all for that!
The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
by Jim Ball
Last week former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had an op-ed on clean air in the Wall Street Journal.
Here are some excerpts.
The Clean Air Act Keeps Us Healthy
Congress can't be trusted to interfere with the EPA's scientific standards.
By ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
I love American success stories. Start-up companies that change the marketplace, inventors who create new technologies, and, of course, immigrants who make it big in Hollywood. That's why I love the Clean Air Act, one of the most successful laws in American history. Over the last 40 years, it has made our air dramatically cleaner, saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and substantially boosted our economy.
In 1968, I came to California and didn't know why my eyes were constantly filling with tears. I quickly learned about smog and bad-air days. These days, the air is much cleaner thanks to the Clean Air Act and technologies that resulted from it, such as catalytic converters on cars and particle traps on diesel exhaust. Those toxic smog days motivated everyone to act.
Today, I have tears in my eyes again, but for a very different reason. Some in Washington are threatening to pull the plug on this success. Since January, there have been more than a dozen proposals in Congress to limit enforcement of our clean-air rules, create special-interest loopholes, and attempt to reverse scientific findings. These attacks go by different names and target different aspects of the law, but they all amount to the same thing: dirtier air.
This is not an abstract political fight. If these proposals are passed, more mercury, dioxins, carbon pollution and acid gases will end up in the air our kids breathe. More Americans will get sick, end up in the hospital, and die from respiratory illness. We would be turning our backs on the sound science and medical advice that has reduced air pollution from large industrial sources by more than 70% since the late 1960s, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The rules that are under attack put common-sense limits on dangerous chemicals in our air. Mercury, which after 20 years is finally being regulated from power plants, is a dangerous neurotoxin that damages brain development and lowers IQs in young children "
Hobbling the Clean Air Act will also hurt the economy. More air pollution causes more sick days, and thus hurts productivity. And, as I know from California's experience, clean-air rules have led to innovation and new technologies that have created hundreds of thousands of new jobs and billions in clean-energy investment.
Congress should not substitute political calculations for scientific and medical facts. According to a recent poll by the American Lung Association, 69% of Americans believe that EPA scientists should set health standards, rather than members of Congress. Yet one proposal under consideration would actually overturn a finding by EPA experts on the impact of carbon pollution on our atmosphere. Another would prevent government scientists from even gathering information on the amount of this pollution going into the air.
I began my public service by promoting fitness for kids, so I know how much parents worry about keeping their children healthy. We choose the right foods, encourage exercise, wear bike helmets, and keep them away from danger whenever we can. But there are some threats, like air pollution, that we can't protect them from on our own. We can't tell our kids not to breathe or control what toxins blow into our air from neighboring states.
For this, we rely on our nation's clean-air laws.
I'm proud that it was a fellow California Republican, President Richard Nixon, who signed the Clean Air Act into law in 1970. In 1990, the act was strengthened by huge bipartisan majorities in Congress. Let's keep that bipartisan tradition alive to make sure no more tears are shed over the clean air that the American people deserve.
The Governator is providing some excellent leadership.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN's Executive Vice President and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.