Release 92-14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT:        Jerry Martin
October 21, 1992                                                                                              Allan Hirsch
                                                                                                                          (916) 322-2990
                                                                                                                          www.arb.ca.gov

Refiners to Begin Selling ARB's Wintertime Gasoline Recipe

SACRAMENTO - All service stations in the state will begin selling new gasoline blends that feature oxygen-rich additives beginning November 1, to meet the California Air Resources Board's (ARB) clean fuel standards designed to reduce wintertime pollution problems.

        Each gallon of the new blends will contain between 6 percent and 11 percent of either ethanol or methanol-derived compounds that cut tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, a pollutant that can exceed state health levels during the winter season. Oil companies are expected to use ether forms of those compounds, such as ethanol or methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The new fuel blends could raise gasoline by about three cents per gallon, but will cut carbon monoxide emissions by 1,200 tons per day or about 10 percent.

        The wintertime ARB standards will be in effect through February in Southern California and through January in Northern California, hen oil companies switch to other blends to reduce summertime urban smog.

        ARB Executive Officer Jim Boyd said, "The ARB's wintertime gasoline recipe will cut health-threatening carbon monoxide emissions by 10 percent and help control the state's biggest cold weather pollution problem without affecting engine performance or requiring tune-ups to vehicles."

        According to ARB data, wintertime carbon monoxide levels, a colorless gas that curbs the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the brain, exceed state health standards in each of the state's urban areas. Unlike ozone, which peaks during summer, most high carbon monoxide levels are measured during winter, usually in areas of high traffic volume or heavy congestion.

        The ARB's new rules, that require the oxygen rich compounds, are similar to rules adopted for other parts pf the country that are using these additives to lower wintertime pollution. However, the California blends will contain less of the oxygen additives to prevent increases in nitrogen oxide emissions, a prime component of urban smog that also poses unique wintertime pollution problems in the Los Angeles area.

        "These standards are intended to strike a balance between reducing the state's primary wintertime pollution problems while not increasing emissions of nitrogen oxide, which pose unique air quality problems in the Los Angeles area," Boyd added.

        Nitrogen oxides contribute to many air pollution problems in California, including excessive nitrogen dioxide, nitric acid deposits and small particles in the air, in addition to urban smog.

        "These special winter rules requiring oxygen rich additives will remain in effect until 1996 when broader and stricter ARB standards that require year-around use of these additives will go into effect," Boyd added.

        In 1996, the ARB's standards for the world's cleanest gasoline will go into effect. Those standards change eight gasoline specifications, including reductions of the most reactive, smog-forming types of hydrocarbon and of toxic compounds, such as benzene. Those new ARB standards will also require the year-around use of oxygenated additives and are expected to make future gasoline recipes 30 percent to 40 percent less smog-forming that today's blends.

        Current ARB gasoline standards, that took effect last January 1, require all gasoline to be completely lead free and to use detergent additives to help clean engine parts. Also, the current rules require a further reduction in summertime vapor pressure limits to help reduce smog-forming emissions caused by excessive evaporation.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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