EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said the agency is giving two refiners greater flexibility to produce cleaner, low sulfur gasoline.
Giving these two refiners additional time to reduce the levels of sulfur in gasoline for passenger vehicles, will also help them meet the deadline to produce low sulfur diesel fuel for heavy duty trucks and buses by June 1, 2006, Whitman said.
The refiners, the National Cooperative Refining Association (NCRA) in Kansas and Wyoming Refining in Wyoming, requested and were granted flexibility under a provision in EPA''s Tier 2 program to produce cleaner vehicles and gasoline.
The refiners will be subject to temporary, less stringent interim gasoline sulfur limits. This relief also allows additional time, two and one-half to four years, depending on each refiner''s specific financial hardship to meet the sulfur standards in gasoline.
"The relief I am granting will give these refiners the ability to continue providing gasoline to consumers while moving ahead to provide cleaner air for all Americans," said Whitman. "This approach is consistent with our goal to take actions that help businesses reduce harmful air pollution to create a strong, healthy environment."
The cleaner fuels and vehicles program, finalized in December 1999, requires passenger vehicles to be 77 to 95 percent cleaner than those on the road today and reduce the sulfur content of gasoline by up to 90 percent.
When the new tailpipe and sulfur standards are fully implemented, Americans will benefit from the clean air equivalent of removing 164 million cars from the road each year, according to EPA.
The Tier 2 program has a hardship provision for refiners who have difficulty meeting the 30 parts per million refinery average for sulfur in gasoline.
This provision allows refiners to request additional time and flexibility to meet these sulfur standards.
by Virginia Sutcliffe