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Bush Administration Hopes to Boost Gasoline Inventory by Easing Environmental Rules for Different Blends

June 1, 2004

The Bush administration is considering removing environmental requirements for a multitude of gasoline blends as one way to increase supplies and fight soaring prices, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said in an interview with the Associated Press. Evans said the cost of gasoline, which hit a record nationwide average of $2.06 this week, was already having an impact on driving habits, with people making fewer trips to the store. Evans said one of the areas the administration was exploring was what it could do to reduce the requirements for different types of gasoline blends in different parts of the country to deal with specific pollution problems. “We’ve got to think real hard whether we need 17, 18, 19, 20, whatever it is, different varieties of fuel in this country,” he said. “That puts certain areas of the country at a very high risk of being dependent on a single source supplier.” Evans said the issue needed to be examined because it was hurting the country’s ability to import gasoline from around the world because foreign refineries do not produce “the boutique fuels that we consume here in America.” Evans became the second Cabinet official to raise the issue of the numerous gasoline blends required to meet environmental standards. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, testifying before a House panel last month, said that the administration was seriously considering requests from California and New York to waive requirements to sell specially blended gasoline. The requirements for specially blended gasoline make fuel more expensive. EPA spokesman John Millett said EPA was still considering the requests and had given no indication when it might rule on the requests.
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