Administrator Christie Whitman Friday signed a final rule to help reduce costs for blending ethanol into gasoline, an action that formalizes the agency''s March 15 decision.
The rule makes it easier for oil refiners to use ethanol in cleaner-burning gasoline supplied to the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, while continuing to achieve air quality benefits in the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program.
It provides flexibility for refiners and helps reduce costs for blending ethanol into gasoline by adjusting the volatile organic compounds (VOC) standards for ethanol reformulated gasoline, which should also help boost supply.
In March, EPA issued an enforcement discretion for these areas, allowing the adjustment to take place prior to this rule being made final.
EPA said it would not extend the relaxed standards to other areas because Chicago and Milwaukee are the only areas of the country that use ethanol exclusively in RFG.
Increased VOC emissions can occur from combining RFG made with the oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and RFG made with ethanol in automobile gasoline tanks.
For the first time the Midwest refiners will receive credit toward their carbon monoxide reduction as recommended to the agency by the National Academy of Science.
by Virginia Sutcliffe