06/20/2013 12:39 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2013

Cleaner Air With New Fuel and Vehicle Standards

Most of us do not stop to think about the quality of air that we breathe on a daily basis, because we have simply become accustomed to the fact that our air is smoggy, and filled with soot and other dirty pollutants. But President Obama knows that we deserve pollution-free air, and that is why he is taking steps to make sure that the air we breathe is cleaner by proposing new vehicle emissions and fuel standards.

These new fuel and vehicle standards, recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) will cut so much pollution that it will be equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road. These new standards would help to clean up the gasoline that we put into our cars, trucks and SUVs, without costing us at the pump. These clean air protections will reduce the average amount of sulfur in our gasoline, from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 10ppm by 2017--this means we would be cutting 66 percent of the dangerous sulfur in gasoline. These new standards would also lower the tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger vehicles.

With more than half of all Americans still living in places with dangerous levels of pollution in the air, it is now more important than ever that we finalize these new fuel and vehicle standards. By 2030, these rules will prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths, 3,200 hospital admissions and 22,000 asthma attacks every year, while reducing annual health care costs by up to $23 billion.

The benefits of the EPA's proposed standards don't end there. Installing the refinery modifications necessary to clean up our gasoline will create 24,500 American jobs over three years, according to a study conducted by Navigant Economics, and the continuing operation of these upgraded refineries will produce nearly 5,300 permanent jobs. According to the study, the refinery upgrades will also add $6.1 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product during the three year investment period.

These new safeguards will also foster innovation. Since low-sulfur gasoline creates fewer emissions, the new gasoline standard will allow automakers to develop more fuel efficient engines that still comply with U.S. emissions standards. Many automakers are urging that these standards be finalized, and a wide range of groups such as the American Trucking Association, Manufacturing of Emissions Controls Association, American Lung Association, Consumers Union, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are supporting them. The standards are also backed by many state and federal elected officials, as well as state regulators such as the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

Currently, the EPA has a public comment period on these proposed fuel and vehicle standards, and it is open until July 1st. Supporters of these critical clean air protections--including thousands of members of the League of Conservation Voters--have already submitted more than 160,000 public comments demanding that the EPA finalize these new standards as soon as possible.

Clearly, this is a win-win situation for our health, our economy, and our environment. President Obama understands this, and we are encouraging the EPA to quickly finalize these rules to ensure that that we are breathing clean, pollutant-free air.