Rep. Joe Barton says the EPA's latest reduction of sulfur in gasoline emissions won't have any positive impact on people's health or the environment, but will likely cost jobs in the gas refining industry.
The Texas Republican, speaking to Newsmax TV's John Bachman, said it's “difficult to say that somebody is just flat wrong because everybody has good intentions” when speaking of health or environmental concerns. But Barton, the senior Republican and chairman emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said sulfur emissions have already been reduced significantly over the past two decades.
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“Under the Clinton administration, and then implemented by the Bush administration, we reduced the sulfur content of gasoline by 90 percent,” he said. “The standard right now is 30 parts per million and these new standards that the EPA put out on Good Friday – when everyone who’s a Christian like myself were thinking about the coming of Easter Sunday, not exactly focused on environmental regulations – they would reduce that further from 30 to 10.”
Barton said he's not aware of “any valid evidence that says going from 30 parts per million of sulfur content to 10 parts per million is going to have a positive health impact" because that minimum level is "almost impossible to even detect.”
But proponents of the tightened standard insist it will decrease air pollution, while giving automakers a level of predictability in the future. Barton acknowledged that the new standard makes "a little bit easier perhaps for Detroit to design engines, but he added, "These standards are supposed to protect public health and the current standard does that.”
Barton said the EPA “has trotted out the same old, tired set of statistics that somehow this is going to reduce the so-called premature death of many thousands a year and things like this. They’ve never been able to prove that, they won’t really share their data.”
The Texan insisted that he is not against strong environmental standards. "But I am against if tight’s good, tighter’s better, and that appears to be what this is.”
Barton also raised concerns about whether older, smaller refineries will be able to justify the costs of meeting the new standard.
“We have less refineries today than we had 20 or 30 years ago,” he said, predicting that some would likely shut down than try to retool their plans to meet the new emissions standard.
"There will be jobs lost," he said.
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