Release 03-32      

December 12, 2003


Jerry Martin 
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990
ARB Gets Good News in Gasoline Status Report

-- The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today received good news in a status report on California gasoline supplies. The report prepared by the Board's staff states that MTBE, the fuel additive banned because of itsÏeffect on groundwater, was removed from all gasoline refined for sale in California in November 2003.

ARB Chairman, Dr. Alan Lloyd, said, "We are pleased with the work California refiners have done to remove MTBE and even more pleased that they have completed this effort without the supply disruptions and price spikes that some predicted. California's fuel programs have led to amazing cuts in motor vehicle emissions, which directly lead to improved public health," he added.

The staff report shows that all major refineries have completed their conversions from the use of MTBE in California gasoline to new blends that either replace MTBE with ethanol, or in some parts of the state is sold without oxygenates. The report also notes that more than 40 percent of the ethanol produced in the United States is expected to be used in California, Connecticut or New York, three states that have banned MTBE.

MTBE, an oxygenate that helps vehicles burn fuel more completely, was first added in large volumes to California gasoline in 1990 to help cut carbon monoxide emissions. However, most vehicles built for California since 1994 are equipped with on-board emission control systems that regulate the engine's air/fuel ratio making it unnecessary to add oxygenates, such as MTBE to California gasoline.

The ARB report also comments on California's four year old effort to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to allow all Californians to buy fuel that does not contain oxygenates. To date, the ARB has not received a final determination from U.S. EPA.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at