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EPA Seeks to Reduce Sulfur in Gasoline by 2017

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has laid out new standards to continue to try to cut pollution coming from vehicles. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow says this could mean a boost for some Ohio-based researchers.

Monday, March 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

The U.S. EPA wants to cut down on the amount of sulfur found in gasoline. Why is this important? Because automakers continue to improve catalytic converters that cut down on the pollution emitted from vehicles, but sulfur interferes with these devices, making them less effective.

Giorgio Rizzoni is director of Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research. Rizzoni believes that as automakers try to take advantage of the new fuel, they may soon turn to research centers like OSU for help.

“To, you know, help validate and develop new technologies -- although I think the automakers already have a pretty good idea of what they have to do," Rizzoni said. "It’s just not in commercial production yet. But research questions are often generated by these efforts, and so we probably will see some additional -- some new research because of this.”

Reaching this new standard must be done at the oil refineries. The American Petroleum Institute slammed the new policy claiming it would raise gas prices and ultimately increase carbon emissions because of the work that goes into cutting out the sulfur.

Chris Zeigler is executive director of API Ohio. He says these new measures could have a dramatic impact on the nation’s refineries, including the four in Ohio. The EPA says the standards will not be implemented until 2017, but Zeigler says that’s not enough time.

“Generally when a refinery shuts down and re-engineers, it takes six years, at a minimum five, and they’re talking about complying within three years," Zeigler said. "That leaves our refiners little time to design, engineer, permit, construct, start up and integrate the new machinery required to do this. It’s concerning.”

While the petroleum industry is bothered by the standards, Rizzoni says the automakers are in support because the new provisions help unify the standards among all the states.

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