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SALT LAKE CITY — A new website that launched Thursday shows drivers where they can buy cleaner Tier 3 gas in Utah.
Tier3gas.org specifies which Speedway, Exxon, Chevron, Texaco and Shell gas stations offer the new fuel — but only three are listed outside Salt Lake County. The website says more locations will be posted soon.
Tier 3 gas initially arrived in Utah in late November after a more than five-year effort to bring cleaner-burning fuel to the Beehive State. The gas's availability has since expanded to a host of other locations.
The EPA is requiring all refineries to meet the Tier 3 standard by 2020, but larger gas producers can comply with the agency’s regulations through credit markets if producing Tier 3 gas is too costly. Thus, few Utah refineries actually create the new gas, and it can be difficult to know which locations offer the low-sulfur option.
Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, hopes the new website makes that a lot simpler.
“This is an exciting moment for us,” Harrison said in an emailed statement. “With more than half of our regional air pollution coming from vehicles during inversion periods, even cutting emissions a few percentage points can bring significant improvement.”
Three refineries in Utah are currently or will be producing Tier 3 gasoline for Utah customers, including Silver Eagle, Marathon and Chevron.
According to the EPA, the additional equipment oil refiners would be required to purchase to create Tier 3 gas would cause the price of gas to rise 1 to 8 cents per gallon. Refiners in Utah, however, were offered a tax incentive that should eventually overcome that additional cost, said Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality.
Tier 3 gas should generally be the same price as regular gasoline in Utah, he explained.
Tier 3 gas contains less sulfur than regular gasoline, which significantly contributes to emissions in Utah’s air. Roughly half of the air pollution along the Wasatch Front comes from tailpipe emissions, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said no state would benefit from implementing the Tier 3 gas standard more than Utah.
In fact, using the fuel is the same as reducing the emissions pollution of four or five cars on the road.
When used in cars made in 2017 or later, Tier 3 fuel can reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds up to 80%, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Newer cars will also see a 70% reduction in directly emitted particulate matter, or particle pollution.
The new gas also reduces emissions in older vehicles by as much as 14%.
“Sulfur can ‘poison’ a vehicle’s catalytic converter, making it less efficient at removing pollutants. The good news is that this effect is largely reversible. So after a few tanks worth of Tier 3 gasoline, even our existing vehicles will be cleaner,” the department claims.