Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Emissions rules may aid biofuels

Environmental groups say S.D. will benefit from new standards
Thom Gabrukiewicz • • April 3, 2010
Tougher air standards for the country's cars and trucks is not only good for the environment, it's a win for economic competitiveness in the Midwest - especially South Dakota's biofuels industry.
That's the assessment from several Midwest environmental organizations, including the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which has an office in Sioux Falls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told automakers Thursday of new greenhouse gas standards for 2012 models.
"Biofuels is a growth industry in South Dakota and the entire Midwest," said Howard Learner, president and executive director with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "The U.S. EPA's action shows the Clean Air Act working successfully to achieve environmental progress and economic benefits together by advancing clean technologies that provide positive solutions."
The nation's oil and gas industry sees things a bit differently.
"The rule is not just about vehicle efficiency," said American Petroleum spokesman Bill Bush. "It's about EPA overreaching to create an opportunity for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from virtually every firm and business in America, no matter how unwieldy, intrusive and burdensome such regulation might be."
Starting with 2012 model year vehicles, the new standards would push the average fuel economy for passenger cars from 27.5 mpg in 2009 to 37.8 mpg by 2016, or an improvement of almost 40 percent. New EPA standards would cover air conditioning improvements in cars and trucks. Those standards require that by the 2016 model-year, manufacturers must achieve a combined average vehicle emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.
In South Dakota, the new rules would conserve an estimated 29 million gallons of fuel, which in turn would save consumers $70 million in gas by 2016. The rules also could avoid releasing 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas into the air and would reduce pollution in the state equivalent to taking 52,775 vehicles off the road.
"Clean car standards and innovative technology will spur new jobs in research and development of pollution control technologies and create new manufacturing opportunities in the Midwest," said Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council.
"Improving vehicle efficiency makes sense. It's a vital part of energy conservation," Bush said. "However, EPA joining DOT in this rule sets the nation on the disastrous course of Clean Air Act regulation of stationary source greenhouse gas emissions."
The new rules are expected to cost about $52 billion and will generate more than $182 billion in economic benefits, Learner said. The bulk of new investment by automakers would be for developing innovative fuel efficiency technologies. That would lessen the need for refining capacity in the U.S. and cast further doubt on the proposed Hyperion oil refinery near Elk Point, Learner said.