Cleaner Air in Absence of Low Quality Gasoline

Cleaner Air in Absence of Low Quality GasolineCleaner Air in Absence of Low Quality Gasoline

The country's air quality slightly improved after gasoline produced at petrochemical plants was eliminated from the list of fuels distributed nationwide, deputy head of the Department of Environment said, Shana news agency reported.

"We need the help of the lawmakers to overcome the environmental challenges we are facing," Saeed Motasadi told a meeting held Tuesday night between members of the parliament's environment faction and senior DoE officials.  

Studies have shown that the main source of smog that pollutes the air in big Iranian cities, especially during winter, is sub-standard gasoline. The conversion of petrochemical plants for gasoline production was started under the government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Trade sanctions of the past few years have restricted Iran’s access to fuel imports. Environmentalists have recorded dangerous particles in air quality tests since 2012. Expert estimates indicate that gasoline from petrochemical plants has been largely responsible for pollution in Tehran. Last year, the DoE published a report confirming gasoline produced at petrochemical refineries “causes cancer.”

Motasadi added that license plates should not be registered for sub-standards cars. "We even recommend that power plants running on mazut as their main fuel should be closed," he asserted. Participants in Tuesday's meeting agreed that rules requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles should be enforced nationwide.

The new standards would include taking millions of sub-standard cars off the road.

According to a recent survey, during its most polluted days, Tehran’s residents inhale a deadly mix of rubber particles, asbestos, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and partially unburnt hydrocarbons.

The government is struggling to allay an environmental crisis after years of neglect by the previous administration.

As relations with the west thaw amid ongoing nuclear negotiations, a lift on petrochemical industry sanctions promises to ease Iran’s access to cleaner gasoline. The government has plans to triple high-standard (EURO 4-grade) gasoline imports, substituting the 8-10 million gallons of fuel produced in Iranian petrochemical plants, which have been discontinued, according to Motasadi. In addition, The oil ministry has pledged to introduce a domestic emissions trading scheme to regulate local industries, as well as long-term strategies to reduce energy consumption. The government also plans to renew the construction of a new oil refinery south of the country, near the coasts of the Persian Gulf.

Iranian lawmakers have also been discussing the need for enactment of clean air acts and upgrading industry standards. According to analysts, heavy energy subsidies have contributed to inordinately high fuel use, and consequently higher levels of pollution from fuel emissions. The growth in fuel consumption, which at its peak reached five times the global average, was partially stymied by the subsidy reforms introduced by Ahmadinejad in 2010, but the progress stopped two years later, when the reform scheme was halted due to inflation and other economic concerns.