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Release Date: 11/14/1997
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp U.S. EPA, (415)744-1589, Amy Rizzonico, ADEQ, (602)207-2215

     San Francisco/Phoenix -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have jointly announced today that an even cleaner gasoline will begin flowing to Phoenix service stations by 1998.  Felicia Marcus, EPA regional administrator, signed a federal register notice today proposing to approve the Phoenix cleaner burning gasoline program.  The new gasoline will reduce airborne toxins, as well as lung-damaging smog, carbon monoxide, and fine particulates.

     "The State of Arizona has stepped up to the plate once again to cut pollution from Phoenix's growing fleet of motor vehicles,"  Marcus said today.  "This is a sensible, cost-effective way to improve air quality for Phoenix residents and will result in immediate improvements in the air they breathe without their having to do anything different or difficult."

     The Clean Air Act allows regions that do not meet air quality standards to require reformulated gasoline upon the governor's request.  Earlier this year, EPA and the State of Arizona worked together to bring federal reformulated gasoline to the Phoenix area to reduce summertime ozone levels.  The State has now requested that, by June 1998, gasoline sold in Phoenix meet either EPA's phase I reformulated gasoline standards or California's cleaner burning gasoline standards, an even less polluting blend that has been in use in California since March 1996.  With billions of gallons already serving California motorists, no performance problems have been reported.  

     "This is an important step toward more healthful air," said Nancy Wrona, ADEQ air quality division director.  "We appreciate the EPA and stakeholder cooperation which helped make this possible."
     The cleaner burning gasoline program is one of many measures developed by the state and local community to clean the air in Phoenix.  Other innovative efforts include a model vehicle emission inspection program, a new voluntary lawnmower replacement program, cleaner industrial solvent requirements that will begin in 1998, and employee rideshare programs.

     The Phoenix area is a serious nonattainment area for ozone -- the main component of smog -- carbon monoxide, and fine airborne particulates.  Motor vehicles are the single largest source of air pollution in the Valley.  To address the region's air quality problems, in 1996 the State convened a task force of local government, industry, and environmental representatives to seek out strategies to clean the air.  The task force concluded that cleaner burning gasoline is the single most effective tool to improve air quality in Phoenix.

     The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register in one to two weeks.  EPA will be receiving comments on this proposal for 30 days after it is published.  Written comments should be sent to Karina O'Connor, Air Planning Office, AIR-2, Air Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.  EPA expects to publish a final rule on February 1, 1998.