New Oxygenated Fuels Program

[EPA press release - October 30, 1992]

This Sunday, November 1, marks the beginning of one of this country's most ambitious programs to combat urban air pollution, according to EPA Administrator William K. Reilly. Gas stations in 39 metropolitan areas are ready to begin dispensing a new, specially-blended fuel that will cut carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from cars and trucks by 15-20 percent.

Reilly said, "This is a giant step in the right direction. The emissions reductions achieved from this clean fuel program will significantly improve the quality of air for the millions of people who live and work in these cities."

The oxygenated fuels program is required by the 1990 Clean Air Act in all areas exceeding the federal carbon monoxide air quality standard. Increasing the oxygen content of gasoline reduces the CO emissions through better combustion of fuel, which is generally less efficient in cold temperatures. The oxygen boost also offsets the effects of fuel-rich operating conditions that occur during vehicle startup in cold weather.

"This is the first major program to be implemented under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and we expect the environmental benefits will be significant and immediate," said William G. Rosenberg, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation.

The program will be implemented by state and local air authorities. Most of the cities will have a four-month control period, November through February. Some variation in the length of these programs occur to match the length of the CO pollution season in each area.

Last summer, EPA and representatives of the petroleum industry, states and the environmental community forged an agreement on how best to tackle the carbon monoxide pollution problem. EPA has published a series of guidelines under the negotiated rulemaking process.