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PA EPA FINALIZES MODIFICATIONS TO CLEAN FUELS PROGRAM

Release Date: 10/20/97
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FOR RELEASE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1997

EPA FINALIZES MODIFICATIONS TO CLEAN FUELS PROGRAM


EPA has finalized changes to the reformulated gasoline (RFG) rule that will apply if states that volunteered to use the cleaner fuel decide to end participation in the program during the transition from Phase I to the Phase II standards. The Clean Air Act requires RFG in 10 areas of the country with the highest levels of ozone. It also allows states the option of adopting RFG in other areas that exceed the standard. The current Phase I procedure allows states to opt out of the RFG program 90 days following approval of its request. Continuing with the same process could potentially cause market uncertainty in the start-up of Phase II and reduce the cost effectiveness of the program by limiting industry’s investment, which could result in higher gasoline prices. Refiners planning to produce Phase II RFG must begin preparing for the tighter standards in the next few months. Substantial investments will have to be made in new technology for additional reductions in nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and toxic emissions. Under the final rule, the petition process and the criteria for evaluating a request will remain the same as they are now, but the time period changes before the opt-out request becomes effective. By Dec. 3l, states will have to decide whether or not to continue participating in the RFG program. If a petition to discontinue the program is not received by that date, the program will continue through 2003. (Phase II becomes effective in 2000.) If the choice is to opt out before Phase II begins, the state can select an effective date anytime before Dec. 31,1999, the end of the Phase I program. EPA said the change to the opt-out procedures ensures a cost-effective and flexible program for consumers, states and fuel suppliers. After 2003, the procedures to opt out will revert back to the previous 90 day opt-out transition period. Complete details of today’s action will appear in the Federal Register and on the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/OMSWWW/.

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