CALIFORNIA REFORMULATED GASOLINE NEWS                                                        NO. 3 --- AUGUST 1995

California RFG Put to the Test in Cars, Trucks, and Equipment

Since early March, more than 700 vehicles from
industry and government fleets throughout the
state have operated exclusively on California
reformulated gasoline (California RFG).  This is
part of the Air Resources Board's California
RFG Performance and Compatibility Test Pro-
gram -- a six-month study to evaluate the fuel's
performance in a wide range of cars, trucks, and
other equipment.  With the program half over,
more than 370,000 gallons of test fuel have been
used.  So far, no problems have been attributed to the cleaner-burning gasoline.
     Researchers are watching closely for any in-
crease in failures of fuel system components such


Over 90 Sacramento City Police vehicles are using
California reformulated gasoline as part of the six-
month, statewide test program.


     RFG New Briefs---------------------------2

     Viewpoint:  NRDC Supports RFG--------3

     Fleets Running on Calif. RFG--------------3

as fuel pumps, hoses, and carburetor parts.
They are using past maintenance records to help determine whether any problems are caused by California RFG or by normal wear and tear.  In addition, a Technical Review Panel, consisting of engineers and technicians from industry and government, will evaluate information from problem vehicles or equipment.

Please see PERFORMANCE on page 3

                  PUBLIC EDUCATION

Interview with ARB Public Education Consultant --- David Novak
RFG Forum interviewed David Novak, principal of Novak Communications, a Los Angeles-based strategic communications firm.  In March, the Air Resources Board retained Novak to design a public education campaign on California reformulated gasoline.

Forum:  How important is public education on RFG?
Novak:  Everything we've learned from public opinion polls points to the need for public educ-
ation.  People must understand the value of RFG.  Adults make decisions based on what they hear on TV and radio, from their mechanics and their friends...and from what they read in the newspaper.  We need to make sure that they get accurate information about RFG so they can make informed decisions.  We've got to make sure the media understands this program.
Forum:  What do you see as the biggest public education challenge with California RFG?
Novak:  Getting the message out to the 20 million Californians who buy gasoline.  People don't think

Please see INTERVIEW on page 2

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much about gasoline except when it's not available
or when cost swings are more dramatic than they
are accustomed to.  We need to find a lot of diffe-
rent ways of communicating the tremendous bene-
fits of RFG in California.
Forum:  What messages should we take to the public?
Novak:  We are working on that.  The research we've


research on RFG

will keep us aimed

in the right direc- tion.

started will allow us to have a very good idea about what messages work and what won't work.  We do know
that RFG has tremen-
dous value for Califor-
nians. We're able to say, "This is cleaner gasoline.  You don't have to change your lifestyle to get the benefit of cleaning up California's air."  It's a win-win situation for

the driver and for California.
Forum:  How important is consumer research?
Novak:  Research keeps us aimed in the right dir-
ection.  It will help us focus our campaign on what
we know most people are thinking or feeling, as
opposed to simply reacting to the loudest voices
of the moment. Although industry has done a lot
of research nationally on consumer attitudes, the
research we're doing through the ARB will give
us specific information about California consum-
ers that we can share freely with everybody who
is doing RFG public education.
Forum:  What's the next step?
Novak:  In June, we surveyed 1,100 randomly-
selected California drivers by telephone.  We
then tested the results of that survey in three
focus groups around the state.  By Labor Day
we'll have research results that will help us use
our resources most effectively.

David Novak's experience includes environ-
mental communications work for organiza-
tions such as the South Coast Air Quality
Management District, Nissan North America,
and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Prior to starting his own consulting firm,
Novak served as Director of Communica-
tions for L. A. Mayor Richard J. Riordan
where he received the Mayor's Medal for his
work following the Northridge earthquake.


CEC and ARB Monitor Supply and Demand; Contingency Planning Begins

Supply and Demand
-- The Energy Commission (CEC) staff continues to refine their estimates of supply and demand for California RFG through the year 2000.  The estimates show that the projected supply of California RFG can meet the state's demand for gasoline through the year 2000.
Petroleum Product List --To evaluate the impact of California RFG on production of other petroleum products, the CEC is also preparing an estimated product slate.  This will show how the projected statewide production of California RFG may affect availability of federal RFG, conventional gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum products.
Contingency Planning -- CEC and ARB staff are meeting individually with refiners to explore how, and if, mechanical problems at refineries could lead to disruptions in RFG production. The purpose is to consider how to minimize any potential supply disruptions.


  • Health Effects -- The Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services has released its final report, "An Investigation of Health Concerns Attributed to Reformulated Gasoline in Southeastern Wisconsin."  The study found no connection between exposure to RFG and the acute, adverse health effects reported in Milwaukee.
  • Air Quality:  Before and After RFG -- The Air Resources Board will evaluate the effects of California RFG on southern California air quality. Contact:  Randy Pasek (916) 324-8496.
  • Public Perceptions -- The American Petroleum Institute has completed a series of studies on attitudes toward RFG.  Among the studies' findings -- the public is not well informed about RFG.
  • Car Makers Support Cleaner Gasoline -- The American Automobile Manufacturers Association (members are Chysler, Ford, and GM) has released a booklet, Clean  Gasoline Has Come to Your Part of the Country, supporting the use of RFG.

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Natural Resources Defense Council
Supports Reformulated Gasoline
by Janet Hathaway -- The Natural Resources
Defense Council strongly supports reformulated
gasoline fuels which can both reduce the form-
ation of ozone and reduce air toxics.  The im-
portance of fuels has often been overlooked in
public discussions of how to reduce vehicle emis-
sions.  Changing fuel formulations is an essen-
tial element to improving air quality, in part be-
cause it has immediate results:  it reduces dang-
erous air toxics and ozone-forming substances
even from old cars.  New vehicle technology,
by contrast, affects the air quality slowly as new
vehicles are purchased and older vehicles are
gradually retired.
     The levels of ozone or smog in many cities
scar our lungs and reduce our breathing capa-
city.  Ozone, which can travel many miles, can
stunt plant growth and damage forests far
away from urban areas.  Motor vehicles are
the source of more than half of the substances
which, when emitted into the air and bathed in
sunlight, form smog.  Fuels which are less vola-
tile, which burn more cleanly and which contain
fewer toxics, will be essential to protect human
health and the environment.

Janet Hathaway is Senior Attorney for the
Natural Resources Defense Council, San

CALIFORNIA RFG FORUM is published quarterly by
the California Air Resources Board in cooperation with
the Phase 2 Reformulated Gasoline Advisory Commit-
tee.  Address correspondence to Editor, CALIFORNIA
RFG Forum
, Air Resources Board, P.O. Box 2815,
Sacramento, CA 95812.  Phone (800) ARB-HLP2
(inside CA) or (916) 323-3336 (outside CA).  FAX
(916) 445-5023.
The opinions expressed in CALFIRONIA RFG Forum
do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the
Air Resources Board, nor does mention of trade names
or commercial products constitute endorsement or re-
commendation for use.

PERFORMANCE Cont. from page 1

     "The preliminary findings are very promising
and confirm much of what we already knew
from previous road and laboratory studies,"
says Dean Simeroth, project leader for the
ARB Test Program.  "However, we need as
much evidence as we can get to assure people
that California RFG will perform well in every-
thing that runs on gasoline -- whether it's a
chain saw, a truck, or an outboard motor."
     To put together a representative test fleet,
the ARB enlisted the help of California busin-
esses and government agencies.  "The cooper-
ation from administrators, fleet managers, and
mechanics has been invaluable," states
Simeroth.  "They have provided the critical
classes of old and new vehicles and equipment
that we wanted to test on California RFG."  

                             Passenger                   Trucks
Organization          Cars         Light    Medium  Heavy

Bank of America        X                X                              X
Cal. State Univer-      X                X              X             X
  sity, Fresno
CalTrans                                        X              X             X
City of Sacramento    X                                X             X
County of                    X
GTE                              X               X              X             X
Pacific Bell                                    X              X             X
Totals                        333            90           197         153

     Operators and manufacturers are also
testing California RFG in equipment such as
lawnmowers, construction equipment, and
marine equipment.  Research from companies
such as Briggs & Stratton and Tecumseh have
shown no problems.
     ARB researchers are gathering and evalua-
ting data so that information will be available to
the public well before California RFG is sold at
the pump.

Performance Notes

  • Chevron and Texaco are testing
    California RFG in employee and
    company autos and trucks -- including a
    good sample of high-mileage vehicles.
  • ARB Board member Doug Vagim has
    joined the ARB Test Program -- he is
    using California RFG test fuel in his
    1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais.

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      RFG & Health

California RFG Reduces Carbon Monoxide

Motor vehicle exhaust is the major source of carbon monoxide (CO).  An ordorless, colorless gas, CO is readily absorbed by the body through the lungs and can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart, brain, and other tissues.  It is especially harmful to people with heart disease, chronic lung disease, anemia, and to unborn children.  For healthy people, excessive levels of CO can cause headaches, fatigue, slow reflexes, and dizziness. CO reaches unhealthy levels primarily during the winter.

  • Added oxygenates                     
  • In 1996, RFG cuts CO emissions by    
  •  11%

    (1300 tons per day)

  • Reduces chest pain in heart
  • Protects people with chronic
          heart or lung disease, anemia
          as well as unborn children


Oxygenates -- Oxygenates are gasoline additives that contain oxygen.  Adding oxygenates to gasoline improves combustion, increases octane, and reduces exhaust emissions of CO, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and air toxics.  Examples of oxygenates include methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethanol.

MTBE -- Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is an ether compound that is produced primarily from natural gas.  MTBE is the most common oxygenate used in gasoline.

Ethanol -- Ethanol is an alcohol compound that is produced from the fermentation of agricultural products, primarily corn.  Ethanol is used both as a gasoline oxygenate and as a fuel.