- June 22 - The oil industry, which for more than a year has claimed that low-sulfur
gasoline would cause massive price increases, now admits it would cost less than
three cents a gallon to make the cleaner fuel.
In a new study quietly supplied
last week to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy,
the American Petroleum Institute said taking most of the sulfur out of gasoline
would cost between 2.3 cents and 2.6 cents a gallon, depending on the type of
refining process used. The study was performed by the MathPro Inc. consultants
of Bethesda, Md.
The cost estimates are very
similar to those made by the EPA, which projected a 1.7-cent-per-gallon increase.
EPA has proposed national low-sulfur gasoline in conjunction with new clean-vehicle
standards for cars, sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. Removing most of
the sulfur from gasoline is vital because sulfur poisons catalytic converters.
The industry study was first
reported yesterday in the respected trade publication Octane Week. Previously,
the industry's lowest cost estimate was 5-6 cents a gallon. Some industry advocates
on Capitol Hill have made even more exaggerated claims about the cost of cleaner
By the way, there's no doubt
that cleaner vehicles and cleaner gasoline are crucial to meeting health standards
for clean air. Even before yesterday -- the first day of summer -- more than two
dozen states had already breached health standards for ozone, or smog, this year.
And at least 16 states had seen smog levels above the "old," weaker ozone standard.