DEEP: 1973 - Regulation of Sulfur Emissions Begins

Top 40
Environmental Accomplishments of the Past 40 Years

Regulation of Sulfur and Fuels Begins
Connecticut’s regulations to control sulfur emissions, as required by the 1970 Clean Air Act, went into effect in 1973. 
The regulations set the stage for efforts to reduce dangerous emissions resulting from the combustion of fuels like gasoline and heating oil.  Now, with the understanding that the cleanest fuels are the fuels that we don’t have to burn, energy efficiency efforts have become an additional, critical element in reducing emissions from fossil fuels. 
What Has Been Accomplished and Why It Is Important
Today’s fuels are cleaner than ever before.  Federal standards for motor vehicles and transportation fuels, and Connecticut measures to address state concerns have accomplished the following:
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and fine particulate pollution, has decreased in Connecticut since 1973 when state rules reduced sulfur content of coal and home heating oil, and by federal programs designed to reduce acid rain and to lower the sulfur content of diesel fuel.  (See SO2 graph.)
  • Lead, which can cause brain damage and other neurological conditions, has been nearly eliminated due to federal standards that began phasing lead out of gasoline in 1973.  (See lead graph.)
  • Ozone, which can aggrevate asthma, bronchitis and cardiovascular disease, is being decreased by evaporative controls, the use of reformulated fuel (a federal requirement since 1995), and lower emitting cars.  These measures reduce both ozone precursors and air toxics.  (See O3 graph.)
What It Means Today
Energy use is core to our economy and our daily lives.  We use energy to power our factories, heat our homes, get us where we want to go and transport our food and products.  We continue to use more fuel; we have more cars and we drive further, increasing the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) every year.  The more we earn the more energy we consume, adding more home appliances, computers and entertainment systems. 
{Graph - Gowth in CT Energy Use v Gross State Product}
Although fuels are cleaner now, burning even the cleanest of fossil fuels will produce greenhouse gases (GHG) that contribute to climate change. 
{Graph - CT Vehicle Miles Traveled vs C02 from Motor Gasoline Usage}
Conservation of the fuels we have will help meet to meet our future energy needs and keep our air clean.
The Challenge for the Future:
Meeting the challenges of air pollution and climate change will require more sustainable methods for satisfying our energy needs.  DEP is evaluating and developing strategies to address these challenges in the future: 1) smart growth, which plans land use development to lower VMT and other energy consumption; 2) introducing electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them; 3) giving incentives for fuel cell technology development; and 4) increasing the use of renewable fuels and energy. 
One strategy being considered for the future is adoption of a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS).  Connecticut is one of eleven states working together with stakeholders to conduct an economic analysis and draft a framework for an LCFS.  Such a standard entails tracking all the GHG emissions that result from producing a fuel, as well as the emissions from the use of that fuel, aiming for a low “well to wheels” carbon intensity.  An LCFS reduces GHG and other air pollutants, while giving Connecticut cleaner fuels, more jobs, and increased security by decreasing dependence on oil. 
More Information
What You Can Do To Help
  1. Don’t top off your motor vehicle’s gas tank when refueling.
  2. Purchase vehicles with high miles per gallon ratings, keep them well tuned, and drive them less.
  3. Purchase energy efficient appliances and light bulbs and turn them off when not in use.
  4. Pursue clean energy options: choice of electricity provider; solar panels; or geothermal energy systems.

 “Developing alternatives to our continued reliance on petroleum-based fuels will foster economic growth and enable increases in fuel security and reliability.  And further, the development, commercialization and use of fuels that have low carbon intensity can support the growth of jobs, businesses, and services in a clean energy economy.”

From the Memorandum of Understanding on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Low Carbon Fuel Standard (12/30/09)