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JUNE 22, 1999  11:38 AM
Clean Air Trust
Frank O'Donnell of the Clean Air Trust, 202-785-9625
Oil Industry Admits Cleaner Gasoline Will Cost Less than 3 Cents a Gallon
WASHINGTON - June 22 - The oil industry, which for more than a year has claimed that low-sulfur gasoline would cause massive price increases, now admits it would cost less than three cents a gallon to make the cleaner fuel.

In a new study quietly supplied last week to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, the American Petroleum Institute said taking most of the sulfur out of gasoline would cost between 2.3 cents and 2.6 cents a gallon, depending on the type of refining process used. The study was performed by the MathPro Inc. consultants of Bethesda, Md.

The cost estimates are very similar to those made by the EPA, which projected a 1.7-cent-per-gallon increase. EPA has proposed national low-sulfur gasoline in conjunction with new clean-vehicle standards for cars, sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. Removing most of the sulfur from gasoline is vital because sulfur poisons catalytic converters.

The industry study was first reported yesterday in the respected trade publication Octane Week. Previously, the industry's lowest cost estimate was 5-6 cents a gallon. Some industry advocates on Capitol Hill have made even more exaggerated claims about the cost of cleaner fuel.

By the way, there's no doubt that cleaner vehicles and cleaner gasoline are crucial to meeting health standards for clean air. Even before yesterday -- the first day of summer -- more than two dozen states had already breached health standards for ozone, or smog, this year. And at least 16 states had seen smog levels above the "old," weaker ozone standard.


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