ST. PAUL, Minn. - Under a new federal proposal, drivers could be paying more at the pump but the air would be cleaner, according to officials.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a clean air proposal Friday that would reduce sulfur emissions by two thirds and impose tailpipe emission standards for 2017 cars and later.
The federal agency says that by 2030 the regulations would prevent as many as 2400 premature deaths and help 23,000 children avoid breathing issues per year.
"I can totally understand why it would be more environmentally friendly but how much is that going to hurt the paycheck," said Brenda Martens Sewell, of St. Paul.
That depends on who you ask. Supporters say about one cent extra.
"Those health benefits, of the premature deaths, the respiratory illnesses avoided, that's going to amount to a 23 billion dollars of health benefits a year. And if you think about it, paying a penny a gallon for 23 billion dollars in health benefits is a pretty good deal," said S. William Becker with the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
Critics believe the jump will be more like six to nine cents.
"We feel the EPA overreacted again and it will be the consumer at the pump who pays for it," said Erin Roth, Executive Director for the Wisconsin/Minnesota Petroleum Council.
Roth claims it will cost refineries billions of dollars to implement. "We're not getting a lot of benefit for what we're required to spend," he said.
"I think its well worth it. Gas prices are already going up anyways," added driver Christopher Miller, of St. Paul.
Miller already has fewer dollars in his pocket because of being a new dad, but he's willing to have even fewer if it's for the environment.
"I would spend more if I knew it was helping out a cause," he said.
California has already implemented the higher standards. Since 2003, the state has dropped its level of smog by 50 percent, but it also has some of the highest gas prices in the country
Some drivers want to know how much the change would help the environment before giving up any change of their own.
"Every cent counts for us," said Martens Sewell.
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