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EPA Might Limit Gasoline Blends to Prevent Price Hikes

August 7, 2001

To help prevent price hikes and gas shortages and lower air pollution, Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Whitman might reduce the number of gasoline blends used around the country, according to USA Today.Whitman said the EPA is considering limiting states to three or four formulas, often called “boutique blends,” of gasoline, instead of the dozen or so currently in use. She emphasized, however, that this approach has problems.Motorists in cities from California to Maine might not know they are buying a boutique blend. For example, gas in Los Angeles differs from gas used in most of the rest of California.The oil industry says the specialty blends lead to increases in gas prices as refiners switch to producing them each summer and fall.Whitman said less dramatic measures could be taken first, such as easing rules on keeping different blends of gas in the same storage tank. She said she’s far from making a decision on cutting the number of blends, but she’s not considering requiring that the whole nation use only one formula.Environmentalists say they wouldn’t object to a lower number of boutique fuels as long as states are still allowed to try new blends to cut air pollution.
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