February 20, 2006

EPA drops reformulated gasoline oxygenation requirements

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a move authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is revoking a requirement of two per cent oxygenation for reformulated gasoline (RFG). Oxygenates are fuel additives that contain oxygen, which can boost gasoline’s octane quality, enhance combustion, and reduce exhaust emissions; currently, about 30 per cent of gasoline sold in the U.S. is RFG.

The removal of the oxygen requirement will take effect nationwide on May 6, 2006, except in California, where the rule is effective sixty days from its publication. The original oxygenation rules went into force in 1990 as part of the Clean Air Act, with the intent of helping gasoline burn more cleanly.

Critics of the rule argued that gasoline could be made to burn as cleanly without oxygenates, and without additional cost burdens on producers and consumers. The effect of the regulation lifting will probably be low, as the Energy Policy Act also imposes a new Renewable Fuel Standard that will keep increasing the amount of ethanol to be used in fuel blends. The EPA does not expect the emissions benefits of the RFG program to be reduced as a result of these rules.

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