In a clash of two titans that usually join together against environmental regulations—the automobile industry versus gas and oil—car manufacturers just scored a big win from the EPA.
The government agency announced that it will implement stricter pollution standards on gasoline, reducing the sulfur content by two-thirds and introducing "fleet-wide pollution limits on new vehicles by 2017," the Washington Post reported. "The proposed standards would add less than a penny a gallon to the cost of gasoline while delivering an environmental benefit akin to taking 33 million cars off the road."
It’s clear why the oil industry would hate this added regulation: it’ll make it more expensive to refine oil into gasoline. But why would automakers support regulation that dictates what kind of cars they can and cannot produce?
A big reason is California. The biggest market for cars in the U.S., it’s already raised standards on gasoline, and automobile makers prefer uniform emissions standards nationwide, which will increase the supply of the kind of cleaner gasoline that their cleaner cars will run on.
The health benefits of the new standards will reach $23 billion by 2030, according to the EPA, as less sulphuric gasoline leads to fewer emissions of respiratory disease-causing compounds like nitrogen oxides. This is likely to be the biggest victory for the Obama administration in clean air regulation during the president’s second term.