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  • Allison Stalker

EPA Sets Updated Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new emission and fuel standards for cars on Monday, March 3rd. The program, Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards, will begin in 2017 and will apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. These standards will consider the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system.


“These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By working with the auto industry, health groups, and other stakeholders, we’re continuing to build on the Obama Administration’s broader clean fuels and vehicles efforts that cut carbon pollution, clean the air we breathe, and save families money at the pump.”


According to the EPA Fact Sheet, the standards include the following measures:

  • The Tier 3 vehicle standards reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles.

  • The Tier 3 gasoline sulfur standard will make emission control systems more effective for both existing and new vehicles, and will enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards. Removing sulfur allows the vehicle’s catalyst to work more efficiently. Lower sulfur gasoline also facilitates the development of some lower-cost technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce green-house gas (GHG) emissions, which reduces gasoline consumption and saves consumers money.

  • The tailpipe standards include different phase-in schedules that vary by vehicle class but generally phase in between model years 2017 and 2025. In addition to the gradual phase-in schedules, other flexibilities include credits for early compliance and the ability to offset some higher-emitting vehicles with extra-clean models.

  • The fuel sulfur standards include an averaging, banking, and trading (ABT) program that will allow refiners and importers to spread out their investments through an early credit program and rely on ongoing nationwide averaging to meet the sulfur standard. EPA is also finalizing flexibilities such as the ability to carry over credits from Tier 2 to Tier 3 and hardship provisions for extenuating circumstances, as well as flexibility provisions for small businesses (small manufacturers of Tier 3 vehicles and small refiners), small volume manufacturers, and small volume refineries.

The EPA is projecting that these final standards will “result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicle’s lifetime. The fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs”. The standards should reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80% and gasoline sulfur levels by 60%.

For more information, check out the EPA’s info page, found here.

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