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FYI: Efforts to reduce sulphur in gasoline

>The recent release of the federal-provincial Government Working Group's
(GWG) report, titled Setting a Level for Sulphur in Gasoline and Diesel
Fuel, has increased public interest in the international efforts to reduce
sulphur in gasoline and diesel fuel.  The GWG report outlined three major
options for the consideration of the federal Environment Minister: adopt a
nationwide standard of 30 ppm (annual average); adopt a nationwide standard
of 150 ppm (annual average); and defer all action on sulphur levels in
Canada and match, in the future, the least restrictive United States' fuel
requirement of new national vehicle standards.  The U.S. standard is
expected in 2004.
>There is currently no international standard for sulphur in gasoline.
Individual nations have developed a hodgepodge of incentive and regulatory
measures to reduce sulphur in gasoline.  By any measure, Canada lags behind
other developed nations efforts to reduce sulphur in gasoline.  Amongst
developed nations, Canada has a high average sulphur level in gasoline (343
ppm in 1996).  The U.S. average sulphur level was 260 ppm in 1995. The
averages for sulphur content in both the U.S. and Europe, in 1995, were at
or below 300 ppm and initiatives are proceeding to lower these levels further.
>Currently, the international standard for sulphur in diesel is 500 ppm.
Canada had, through the Diesel Fuel Regulations (February 19, 1997),
regulated the maximum sulphur level for on-road diesel at 500 ppm.
>United States
>The United States continues to lead, relative to Canada, in the reduction
of sulphur in gasoline and diesel.  The U.S. federal regulation on
reformulated gasoline (RFG) became effective on January 1, 1995.  This
regulation requires that only RFG be sold in areas with severe and extreme
exceedences of the U.S. ambient air standard for ozone, and areas that opt
into the programme.  In areas of the U.S. outside of those areas that are
required to use RFG, gasoline must meet anti-dumping requirements.  
>The U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 had specified emission
performance standards for vehicles for the model years 1998-2003 (Tier I
standards) and for the model years 2004 and beyond (Tier II standards).  The
EPA has made a proposal to maintain one national standard, excluding
California.  The EPA does not have the legislative authority to require more
stringent standards prior to 2004.  Therefore, the National Low-Emission
Vehicle (NLEV) programme will be voluntary and states will have to opt in.
>The U.S. prohibited diesel with a sulphur level exceeding 500 ppm for
on-road vehicles beginning on October 1, 1993.  The EPA is currently
considering improvements in diesel specifications.  A decision is expected
sometime in 1999.
>California is the recognized world leader in requiring less-polluting
fuels.  On March 1, 1996, specifications for gasoline produced and sold in
California, called Phase 2 gasoline, went into effect.  Amongst the limits,
sulphur was set at 40 ppm, although there is an option of meeting a limit of
80 ppm provided an annual average of 30 ppm is met.
>California initiated its low-sulphur diesel requirements (less than or
equal to 500 ppm) simultaneously with federal requirements (October 1,
1993).  However, California requires low- sulphur diesel for both on-road
and off-road vehicles.
>European Community
>The European Commission has recommended, to the European Parliament, a
reformulated fuel standard for European gasoline and diesel, and the
adoption of more stringent emission standards.  
>Currently the European standard for unleaded gasoline has a maximum sulphur
level of 500 ppm.  The average sulphur level is approximately 300 ppm.
>The European legislative system is somewhat complicated.  The European
Commission provides proposals or recommendations which the European
Parliament must ratify.  The Parliament may also amend the recommendations
from the Commission, as well as the "common position" enunciated by the
European Council of Ministers.
>In April 1997 Parliament amended, i.e., tightened, the recommendations of
the Commission on requirements for sulphur in gasoline.  Parliament proposed
a standard of 100 ppm in 2000 and 30 to 50 ppm in 2005.
>In June 1997 the Council of Ministers agreed to new limits for sulphur in
gasoline and diesel.  Starting in 2000 the level for sulphur, within the
European Community, will be 150 ppm (maximum) and an "indicative
specification to be attained in 2005" of 50 ppm.
>Parliament must still ratify the new "common position."  Indeed, Parliament
may deem the proposed limits insufficient.
>Since October 1996, the European Community has required that the sulphur
level in diesel must be less than 500 ppm.  The Council of Ministers agreed
to new limits on sulphur in diesel of 350 ppm maximum, starting in 2000, and
an indicative specification (suggested policy direction, but not confirmed)
of 50 ppm gradually phased in starting in 2005.
>Other States
>Both Sweden and Finland have had tax-incentive programmes for low-sulphur
(below 100 ppm) gasoline since 1994.  Sweden offers $.04/litre on diesel
fuels with sulphur levels below 50 ppm and $.08/litre below 10 ppm.  Finland
offers a similar programme on diesel below 50 ppm.
>Germany, Switzerland and Austria have required low-sulphur diesel a few
years ahead of the European Community mandate.
>Currently in Japan, the maximum sulphur limit for gasoline is 100 ppm and
500 ppm for diesel.  Mexico has had low-sulphur diesel (less than or equal
to 500 ppm) since 1994, but does not currently require low-sulphur gasoline.
>No country that is currently controlling sulphur in diesel is setting a
level above 500 ppm.  In gasoline, there is no jurisdiction setting a new
level above 200 ppm in the short term and many, in the medium term, have set
new levels below 100 ppm.
>Canada has a high average sulphur content amongst developed nations and has
taken a lackadaisical approach to setting new standards.  Within Canada,
Ontario, by far, has the highest average sulphur level in gasoline (533 ppm
in 1996) and levels are increasing.  In B.C., sulphur in on-road diesel has
been controlled to 500 ppm since 1995.  Sulphur content in gasoline will be
limited to an average of 150 ppm beginning in the southwest in 1999 and 200
ppm elsewhere starting in 2000. 
>Environment Canada. "International Activities Directed at Reducing Sulphur
in Gasoline and Diesel: A Discussion Paper". Mark Tushingham, 1997.
>        .  Government Working Group on Sulphur in Gasoline and Diesel
Fuels, "Preliminary Report of the Government Working Group on Sulphur in
Gasoline and Diesel: Setting A Level for Sulphur in Gasoline and Diesel".
March 27, 1998.
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