Frequently Asked Questions about the California Reformulated Gasoline Program

This page last reviewed June 10, 2010

1. How much ethanol is required in California gasoline?

None. California Reformulated Gasoline (CaRFG3) regulations do not require the use of ethanol. However, ethanol is an oxygenate, and there is an oxygen content requirement.

2. How much oxygen is required in California gasoline?

There is a minimum oxygen content requirement of 1.8 percent by weight for the South Coast area and Imperial County, from November 1st through February 29th. Outside of that requirement, refiners have the option to put from 0-3.5 percent by weight oxygen (0-10 volume percent ethanol) in CaRFG3.

3. How much ethanol was required in gasoline under the Federal Energy Act for 2008?

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that fuel producers must increase their use of renewable fuels every year through 2020.  For 2008, this effectively corresponded to a required national average ethanol content of 7.76 percent by volume.  

4. Will the Federal Energy Act requirements increase ethanol content in gasoline to 10 percent by volume? 

Yes.  We expect that the Federal Energy Act requirements will lead to a required national average ethanol content of 10 percent ethanol by 2012.  However, California has had 10 percent ethanol in it's gasoline since the beginning of 2010.  

5. How much ethanol is in the gasoline I buy in California?

Currently most gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol by volume.

6. Is California changing gasoline requirements?

Yes. In June 2007, the Air Resources Board approved amendments to the CaRFG3 regulations.

7. What changes do the approved amendments make?

The amendments update the Predictive Model requirements (determines which gasoline formulations comply) and mitigate permeation emissions from the ethanol used in gasoline vehicles. For more details on the changes see the CaRFG3 hearing notice.

8. Do the new amendments require more ethanol?

No, ethanol is not required under either the current or the amended regulation. However, increasing ethanol from 5.7 percent to 10 percent can help mitigate permeation emissions under the amended Predictive Model.

9. When do the new amendments take effect?

Use of the amended Predictive Model is required beginning December 31, 2009.

If you have questions regarding this program, please contact the California Air Resources Board at (916) 322-6020.