EPA taking aim at auto emissions, sulfur in gas
WASHINGTON (AP) — Reducing sulfur in gasoline and tightening emissions standards on cars beginning in 2017, as the Obama administration is proposing, would come with costs as well as rewards. The cost at the pump for cleaner air across the country could be less than a penny or as high as 9 cents a gallon, depending on who is providing the estimate.An oil industry study says the proposed rule being unveiled Friday by the administration could increase gasoline prices by 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates an increase of less than a penny and an additional $130 to the cost of a vehicle in 2025.
The EPA is quick to add that the change aimed at cleaning up gasoline and automobile emissions would yield billions of dollars in health benefits by 2030 by slashing smog- and soot-forming pollution. Still, the oil industry, Republicans and some Democrats have pressed the EPA to delay the rule, citing higher costs.
Environmentalists hailed the proposal as potentially the most significant in President Barack Obama's second term.
The so-called Tier 3 standards would reduce sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent and reduce nitrogen oxides by 80 percent, by expanding across the country a standard already in place in California. For states, the regulation would make it easier to comply with health-based standards for the main ingredient in smog and soot. For automakers, the regulation allows them to sell the same autos in all 50 states.
The Obama administration already has moved to clean up motor vehicles by adopting rules that will double fuel efficiency and putting in place the first standards to reduce the pollution from cars and trucks blamed for global warming.
"We know of no other air pollution control strategy that can achieve such substantial, cost-effective and immediate emission reductions," said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Becker said the rule would reduce pollution equal to taking 33 million cars off the road.
But the head of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Charles Drevna, said in an interview Thursday that the refiners' group was still unclear on the motives behind the agency's regulation, since refining companies already have spent $10 billion to reduce sulfur by 90 percent. The additional cuts, while smaller, will cost just as much, Drevna said, and the energy needed for the additional refining actually could increase carbon pollution by 1 percent to 2 percent.
"I haven't seen an EPA rule on fuels that has come out since 1995 that hasn't said it would cost only a penny or two more," Drevna said.
A study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute estimated that lowering the sulfur in gasoline would add 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon to refiners' manufacturing costs, an increase that likely would be passed on to consumers at the pump. The EPA estimate of less than 1 cent is also an additional manufacturing cost and likely to be passed on.
A senior administration official said Thursday that only 16 of 111 refineries would need to invest in major equipment to meet the new standards, which could be final by the end of this year. Of the remaining refineries, 29 already are meeting the standards because they are selling cleaner fuel in California or other countries, and 66 would have to make modifications.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the rule was still undergoing White House budget office review.
Home-schooling family who fled to U.S. from Germany face deportation: Parents face charges and $9,000 fine for taking kids out school as Obama officials prepare to send them backThe Obama administration is arguing in federal court that a homeschooling family from Germany should be deported back to their homeland, despite what they say is religious persecution. The German government prevented Uwe and Hannelore Romeike from teaching their five children at home instead of sending them to government-run schools, fining them and threatening to prosecute them if they don't obey.
When they took their three oldest children out of school in 2006, police showed up at their house within 24 hours, only leaving after a group of supporters showed up and organized a quick protest.
But their legal troubles were just beginning. Germany began fining the family, ultimately racking up a bill of more than 7,000 Euros ($9,000).
After they fled to the United States in 2010, the Romeike family initially were granted political asylum and found a home in Tennessee. They had a sixth child. But then U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appealed the asylum decision in 2012.
The federal Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the government despite a 2011 policy that gives the government broad discretion to pursue only high-priority cases.
ICE would not provide details about the case, or its reasons for pursuing the Romeikes.
'We do not comment on pending litigation,' ICE public affairs officer Brandon Montgomery told MailOnline.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany with their five children because the government there criminalized home schooling. A sixth child was born after they took up residence and Tennessee and won permanent asylum on human rights grounds. The Obama administration appealed and seeks their deportation back to Germany
The Romeikes teach their five school-age children at home, including computer lessons along with reading, writing, math, history, music and other subjects
A three-judge panel in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case of Romeike v. Holder on April 23.
Michael Farris, that organization's founding chairman, told MailOnline in a telephone interview that the even if the federal government doesn't believe home schooling is a human rights issue that qualifies for political asylum, it can still let the family remain in the US and home school their children.
'The attorney general absolutely has the discretion to let these people stay,' Farris said of the devoutly Christian family.
(Read more at)
TSA agent accidentally pepper sprays fellow agents
An incident that reportedly led a TSA agent to accidentally shoot five fellow employees with pepper spray left Kennedy International Airport with mud in its eye.
According to the New York Post, the stinging substance that is meant to be aimed at the face, and can cause major eye irritation, sent all six airport security screeners to the hospital.
The Post reports:
The agent, Chris Yves Dabel, discovered the device at the Terminal 2 security checkpoint and tried to determine if it was real, a source told The Post.The incident sounds more like something from "The Three Stooges" than something security experts would do.
He told Port Authority cops that he “found the canister on the floor and thought it was a laser pointer.”
“They were playing around with it,” said one Kennedy Airport official.
The TSA seemed to assert in a statement to ABC News that the agent was being professional, not playful. “Officers were examining an abandoned item to determine its contents and to move it out of harm’s way when it accidentally discharged.” The TSA added that no travelers were injured.
The embarrassing incident led to the shutdown of security check points for 15 minutes, the UPI reports.
This is not the first time the TSA has suffered a security snafu. An earlier report in the New York Post exposed Newark Liberty Airport for failing to catch a fake bomb as part of a training exercise. An undercover agent brought the mock explosives through two layers of security, hidden in his pants.