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Posted on  

March 4, 2004

New Hampshire RFG Opt-Out Request Fails to Protect State’s Air Quality and Must Be Rejected

Proposed Plan Would Lead to Increased Carbon Monoxide and Toxics Emissions, Ozone Formation

Washington, DC - The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) last night submitted official comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
regarding the proposed approval of a request by the state of New Hampshire to “opt-out” of the Clean Air Act’s reformulated gasoline (RFG) program.

New Hampshire’s proposed state implementation plan (SIP) would replace federal RFG with a state-specific boutique fuel referred to as “oxygen
flexible reformulated gasoline” (OFRFG).

“Simply put, New Hampshire’s proposed SIP does not maintain the air quality benefits of the current federal RFG program and, therefore, does not meet the legal standard for approval,” stated RFA President Bob Dinneen.

“Allowing the state to use OFRFG would lead to an increase in carbon monoxide, exhaust hydrocarbon, fine particulate and toxics emissions. Ozone
pollution in New Hampshire and the surrounding region would increase.

Moreover, while New Hampshire’s stated objective is to reduce the use of MTBE, the proposed SIP does nothing to assure refiners reduce or eliminate MTBE. Other states have addressed concerns about MTBE by simply replacing
MTBE with ethanol; thereby protecting drinking water supplies without undermining the air quality benefits of the federal RFG program. New
Hampshire could, and should, do the same.”

As an “opt-in” state to the RFG program, New Hampshire has the right under the Clean Air Act to request an “opt-out” this year provided its request meets the necessary legal and scientific requirements. A state must factually demonstrate to the EPA that its proposed alternative will maintain or improve air quality and that the existing standards are “unreasonable and impracticable.” New Hampshire’s request fails to meet either of these requirements.

“The foundation of New Hampshire’s SIP revision is that federal RFG and the state’s boutique OFRFG yield equivalent emissions benefits. They do not,” added Dinneen. “Federal RFG is comprised of performance standards for emissions and a requirement for oxygen, the combination of which yields significantly greater air quality benefits than either acting alone. By ignoring the additional air quality benefits of oxygen, New Hampshire is sacrificing important environmental protection. Thankfully, the law does not allow such environmental backsliding, and the EPA will have to disapprove New Hampshire’s ill-conceived request.”


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