WASHINGTON - The petroleum industry faced increasing pressure on two fronts last week to do more about contaminants in fuel, especially sulfur in gasoline:
1. Carmaker associations from the United States, Europe and Japan jointly proposed a worldwide charter calling for consistent gasoline and diesel quality.
2. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moyni-han, D-N.Y., prepared legislation to set a strict limit on the amount of sulfur in gasoline, no more than 40 parts per million.
Earlier this year, the Ameri-can Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers jointly asked the EPA to issue rules dropping the average to 30 ppm. The current national average outside California is 339 ppm.
James Steiger, AAMA's director of fuels and lubricants, said the proposed charter is compatible with the petition to the EPA. He said the goal is to get governmental action in Europe, Japan and the United States to enforce the charter.
Other key elements deal with distillation temperatures, which Steiger said affect efficiency and performance, and elimination of contaminants that cause toxic emissions.
The petroleum industry said in March that the carmakers' sulfur petition was unwarranted and would raise costs for motorists unnecessarily where air is not dirty.
About the Moynihan bill, American Petroleum Institute spokesman Joe Lastelic said flatly, 'We are against that.'
Lastelic said his organization could not comment on the proposed charter because it had not obtained a copy.
The EPA is planning to propose rules on sulfur in gasoline late this year - at about the same time it issues proposed new vehicle emission standards, known as Tier II and effective in 2004.
Carmakers contend sulfur interferes with existing emissions control equipment, such as catalytic converters, and prevents development of new technologies, including lean-burn engines.