Reformulated gasoline (“RFG”) is gasoline blended to burn cleaner and reduce smog-forming and toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. About 75 million people are breathing cleaner air because of RFG.
History of RFG
Despite tremendous progress in reducing U.S. air pollution since the Clean Air Act was passed over 30 years ago, cars and trucks are still a major source of pollution because the number of cars and trucks and the number of miles driven keeps growing.
One way to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks is to use a gasoline that is designed to burn cleaner. This cleaner burning gasoline, called reformulated gasoline or RFG, is required by the Clean Air Act in cities with the worst smog pollution, but other cities with smog problems may choose to use RFG. The federal RFG program was introduced in 1995; RFG is currently used in 17 states and the District of Columbia. About 30 percent of gasoline sold in the U.S. is reformulated. Each oil company prepares its own formula that must meet federal emission reduction standards.
The RFG program is a significant step toward cleaning the air we breathe, and a significant component of the country’s smog reduction strategy. RFG’s air quality benefits, combined with other industrial and transportation controls aimed at smog reduction, together are responsible for the long-term downward trend in U.S. smog.
Air Quality Benefits of RFG
The first phase of the RFG program was designed to reduce the air pollution that causes smog by 64,000 tons per year in the areas that use RFG, compared to conventional gasoline—the equivalent of eliminating the smog-forming emissions from over 10 million vehicles.
The second (current) phase of the RFG program that began in 2000 is designed to reduce smog pollutants by an additional 41,000 tons per year in RFG areas, for a combined equivalent of eliminating the smog-forming emissions from about 16 million vehicles.
The RFG program also reduces emissions of toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a known human carcinogen. RFG reduces toxic pollutants by about 24,000 tons per year in RFG areas, the equivalent of eliminating the toxic emissions from over 13 million vehicles.
A study by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, an organization of state air quality experts, shows that Phase I RFG reduced cancer risk from gasoline by about 12 percent, and Phase II RFG is expected to reduce cancer risk by 19 percent.
Analysis of fuel data submitted to EPA by industry for compliance purposes shows that emission reductions from the RFG program have been more than the program requires each year since the program’s introduction in 1995.