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Another EPA crock: Sulfur silliness

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

A new Environmental Protection Agency rule on gasoline's sulfur content shows yet again that the Obama administration can't conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis or refrain from unnecessary economic meddling.

Refiners already have cut gasoline's sulfur content by 90 percent — from 300 parts per million a decade ago to 30 ppm today. Now, the EPA is requiring another reduction, to 10 ppm by 2017, citing the need to protect health, save lives and prevent lost work and school days.

The EPA says the rule will raise pump prices by less than 1 cent per gallon and add about $75 to vehicle sticker prices. But refiners, who have to install expensive new equipment, say compliance will cost them $10 billion. An American Petroleum Institute study finds the rule will hike pump prices by 9 cents per gallon. And the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers expects it to cost automakers about $15 billion over 10 years, The New York Times reports.

Those are heavy additional costs for America's still-struggling economy to bear — especially for marginal additional benefits from squeezing another 20 ppm of sulfur out of gasoline. Refiners say that's far more difficult and expensive than previous sulfur reductions.

Expect shortages at the pump as refiners scramble to meet a government demand that makes meeting market demand even harder. This new sulfur rule further hinders an economy already burdened with too many unnecessary, costly Obama EPA interventions.

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