New EPA Emissions Standard Saves Lives, Creates Jobs

Chevy VoltNew fuel efficiency and emissions standards are creating stronger automotive jobs in the U.S., as research and development firms wind up to meet the challenges, refineries retool and American manufacturers build  new components. That wasn’t one of the big headlines from the EPA’s announcement earlier this month that it finalized the Tier Three Motor Vehicle Fuel and Emissions Standards. But it’s definitely one of the real-world effects.

The new emissions standard takes effect by 2017 and “sets new vehicle emissions standards and lowers the sulfur content of gasoline.” The new standard is on top of the fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration in 2009, pushing for cleaner more fuel efficient automobiles.

A 2014 report commissioned by the Emissions Control Technology Association shows the Tier Three standard will create of thousands of new jobs operating new refinery equipment and about 24,000 new refinery jobs over three years as refineries retool to meet the new EPA standards for lower sulfur emissions. An earlier Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report from March 2010 showed higher fuel and emissions standards would create 150,000 jobs in the U.S. across a spectrum of job sectors.

The NRDC, in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, created a website called DrivingGrowth.org which highlights real-world stories about how raising the bar for cleaner, more efficient cars is in fact a job-creating effort. There are plenty of other resources as well that show how increased fuel standards create real jobs for real people. New emissions rules come along, research and development folks need to find solutions, engineers need to figure out how to make it and integrate it with a car, manufacturers need to produce the part, and shippers need to bring those parts to the assembly line. New standards create a cascade of jobs.

Yeah, the EPA didn’t exactly harp on the jobs thing. Mostly they talked about human health and lives saved with the Tier Three standards. Cutting nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds by 80 percent, particulate emissions by 70 percent, and gasoline sulfur emissions by 60 percent, Tier Three standards will prevent up to 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2030. It’ll also help folks susceptible to respiratory issues breathe easier,  preventing 19,000 “asthma exacerbations” and 30,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms in children. It saves thousands of emergency room visits and millions of days lost to school closings, inability to work and overall reduced activity ability.

And of course, with fewer hospital visits each year Americans will save as much as 19 billion in health care costs each year. We’ve been paying through the nose with our health and our debit cards to let cars burn toxic, high-particulate fuel.

Perhaps surprising to some, the auto manufacturers were cooperative and supportive of the emissions standards. The only major objections came from oil companies who sang the usual “cost prohibitive” song. They sing that song all the time, though. Maybe what they mean by “cost prohibitive” is that they’ll have to hire more people to retool and operate the refineries. And maybe that’s not all bad for America.

Image credit: Eric Justian

Eric Justian

Eric Justian is a professional writer living near the natural sugar sand beaches and singing sand dunes of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Michigan. When he's not wrangling his kids or tapping at his computer, he likes to putter in his garden, catch king salmon from the Big Lake, or go pan fishing with his boys.As a successful blogger his main focus has been energy, Great Lakes issues and local food.Eric is a founding member of the West Michgian Jobs Group, a non-profit organization that evolved from a Facebook page called Yest to West Michigan Wind Power which now has over 8000 followers. West Michigan Jobs Group promotes independent businesses and sustainable industries in the West Michigan area. As the Executive Director of that organization he has advocated renewable energy as both a clean energy alternative for Michigan and a new industry with which to diversify our economy and spark Michigan innovation and jobs.

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