SPECIAL REPORT

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

SPRING 2011

PRESSURE
AT THE PUMP
• What’s driving high gas prices? • Detergent levels fuel difference in gas quality • Some states look at raising fuel taxes

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE SPECIAL REPORT

SCRIPPS HOWARD PRESSURE AT THE PUMP NEWS SERVICE

About the Gasoline special report
Have you ever wondered why gasoline at one station costs more than at the station across the street? Or whether the type of gasoline matters to the performance of your car? Or is gasoline pretty much gasoline? To answer those questions, reporters from the Scripps Howard News Service and TV stations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit and West Palm Beach, Fla. -- all part of the E.W. Scripps Co. -- took samples of different types of gasoline from five national brands and had them tested by a laboratory. One thing we found is that the little extra something in gasoline does matter, and it can make a difference in the price at the pump, the life of your car and the quality of our air. That little extra something is detergent designed to keep engines cleaner. We found that the amount of detergent varies widely depending on the brand of gasoline and the level of octane. The experts we interviewed agreed that you can keep your engine cleaner by using the blend of gasoline with the highest level of added detergent in its class. The fuel may be more expensive at the pump, but your car will run better and longer, you will get more miles to the gallon, and the air will be cleaner. So, yes, the gasoline might be “greener” on the other side of the street.

Sincerely, Peter Copeland Editor & General Manager Scripps Howard News Service

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE SPECIAL REPORT

PRESSURE AT THE PUMP

CONTENTS

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Images

Detergent levels fuel differences in gas quality
SHNS’ Isaac Wolf reports on an independent lab test of national gasoline brands for detergent additives, which protect engines and the environment. Fuel experts contend the Environment Protection Agency’s minimum standard for detergent additives is outdated.

PAGE 4

CONTRIBUTORS
Reporter Isaac Wolf Editorial writer Dale McFeatters

Graphic: The dirt on gas-detergent additives Gas-price run-up fed by many factors
High crude-oil costs are being driven by Mideast turmoil and unprecedented worldwide demand. But other factors — including market speculation, refining margins and rising corn ethanol prices — add to the pump price.

PAGE 7 PAGE 8

Lead editor Carol Guensburg Editors Peter Copeland Lisa Hoffman Bob Jones John Lindsay David Nielsen Photo editor Sheila Person Multimedia editor Jason Bartz

Graphic: Breaking down your gas dollar 10 ways to improve your gas mileage States weigh raising gas taxes to fill budget holes
Even as gasoline prices flirt with the $4.11-per-gallon record set in July 2008, some cash-strapped states are looking at raising gas taxes.

PAGE 10 PAGE 14 PAGE 16

CONTACTS
PAGE 17 PAGE 18 PAGE 20

State gasoline tax rates Making news across America EDITORIAL: Gasoline mixed to an outdated standard

202-408-1484 or stories@shns.com. Our website www.scrippsnews.com
Scripps Howard News Service is part of the E.W. Scripps Co.

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Detergent levels fuel differences in gas quality
By ISAAC WOLF Scripps Howard News Service

B

uying the cheapest gasoline will keep a few extra cents in your pocket now, but it may cost you down the road.
buildup on a test car to less than 100 milligrams per intake valve over 10,000 miles of driving. “The sensitivity of modern engines is much higher than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Keith Corkwell, a manager for Lubrizol Corp., an Ohiobased chemicals company. He said the science behind the EPA rule dates to the 1980s: “We don’t make engines that look like that any more. The technologies have changed.” Officials at the EPA’s Washington headquarters did not respond to numerous interview requests made since February. To gauge the differences in fuels, Scripps commissioned a test of gasoline from five national
SPRING 2011 5

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Images

That’s because national gasoline brands differ widely in their levels of crucial engine-cleaning detergent additives, Scripps Howard News Service has found. The additives remove carbon deposits that can impair engine efficiency, reduce gas mileage and increase harmful emissions — sometimes enough for a car to fail emissions testing. Complicating the issue: The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s minimum requirement for the additives is woefully low and outdated, some automakers and fuel experts contend. Since 1995, the EPA has required retailers to sell gas with at least a few drops of detergent in each gallon of gasoline — enough to keep deposit

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE SPECIAL REPORT

PRESSURE AT THE PUMP

brands: BP, Citgo, Exxon, Pilot (sold at travel centers in 43 states) and Shell. One-gallon samples of both regular unleaded and premium fuel were collected in metropolitan Detroit on March 10 and analyzed by Paragon Laboratories, an independent, certified testing facility in Livonia, Mich. Paragon tested each of the 10 samples, measuring the residue left when gas is boiled away. This “unwashed gum” serves as evidence of detergent. Theoretically, the more gum residue, the more detergent — and the better the gasoline.

The findings:

It’s impossible to tell how lower detergent levels could affect a particular vehicle, he added. Those with more than 100,000 miles tend to need more detergent, as do newer, more sophisticated models. Some can function with little detergent; all would benefit from having more. Detergent adds 1 to 2 cents per gallon to a gas company’s production costs, Rand and Furey said. The residue test can’t determine conclusively whether samples meet the federal minimum detergent requirement, which is based in part on detergent quality, not just quantity, Furey said. The Scripps test did not

„ Among samples of regular unA dirty engine can cut gas mileage by up to 2 leaded gasoline (those with an octane rating of 87), Exxon had the highest percent and increase emissions. GM pays attenlevel of additives (20.0 milligrams per tion to cleaning additives because sometimes 100 milliliters), closely followed by BP (17.2 mg) and Shell (16.2 mg). Trailing “we’ll get a rash of warranty problems related substantially were Citgo (6.0 mg) and to low detergency.” Pilot (5.8 mg). „ Among premium fuels (92 — Bill Studzinski, head of GM’s fuels team or 93 octane), Shell took the top spot (31.0 mg), followed by BP (26.4 mg) and Exxon (21.2 mg). Citgo (9.4 mg) and Pilot 92 (8.8 measure quality. mg) lagged behind the other three brands — including Rand, who worked extensively with Citgo, said he the trio’s regular gasoline samples. expected the Venezuelan company to use more addiThe Scripps test shows that “the major brands like tives: “I am surprised to see their detergency levels are a Exxon, Shell and BP all had good amounts of deterlittle bit lower than the majors’.” gent,” said Sal Rand, one of several fuels experts who Citgo ensures quality through random checks, said reviewed the results. Rand retired from the Texaco ReAlan Flagg, a marketing manager. search Center. A vice president of Pilot’s parent company, Pilot Exxon premium scored just slightly above its reguFlying J of Knoxville, Tenn., said its gas blends meet lar gasoline, suggesting the company provides a simiEPA requirements: “That is the standard we use,” Alan lar amount of additives across its fuel lineup, said Bob Wright said. “We don’t put in extra.” Furey, a fuels-industry consultant who used to work for BP spokesman Scott Dean said his brand uses far General Motors Corp. more detergent than federal rules require. Detergent amounts in the regular Exxon, BP and Representatives of Exxon, part of ExxonMobil Shell samples likely would help keep engines clean, Corp., and Shell did not respond to interview requests. Furey said. The Scripps test provides a single-day snapshot of

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The dirt on gas-detergent additives
Gasoline detergent additives remove harmful carbon deposits that collect on engine parts, including intake valves like those below, which show increasing concentrations of detergent additives: No detergent
Lowest allowable concentration

1.1 times

1.7 times

2.7 times

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence says carbon buildup can: Reduce fuel efficiency Disrupt combustion, causing engine hesitation Create engine “knock” Increase hydrocarbon emissions

Images courtesy of BASF

relatively few samples in a single market. It replicates the approach the auto industry takes on a much broader scale, quietly conducting hundreds of spot-checks nationwide a year. But the industry doesn’t publicly share its findings. A dirty engine, often imperceptible to drivers, has tangible effects, said Bill Studzinski, head of GM’s fuels team. It can cut gas mileage by up to 2 percent and increase emissions — sometimes enough so a car will fail emissions testing. GM pays attention to cleaning additives because sometimes “we’ll get a rash of warranty problems related to low detergency,” Studzinski said.

The EPA’s minimum standard
Troy Green, national spokesman for the AAA auto club, said there is “very little difference, if any” among detergent quality across gasoline brands because of EPA’s minimum standard. The EPA requires gas distributors to keep records on how much additive they use, according to agency

documents posted in the Federal Register. Detergent gets added to generic or “base” fuel at regional distribution centers. When a 9,000-gallon tanker fills up with gasoline, electronic equipment dispenses a calibrated dose — from one to five gallons, depending on the brand, said Corkwell, of Lubrizol, a leading supplier of detergent additives. Some engineers, automakers and fuel experts say the EPA’s minimum requirement is outmoded and far below the amount newer vehicles’ fuel-efficient engines need to run cleanly. When a gas company or chemical maker wants EPA approval for a new additive, the chemical must be tested for 10,000 miles on a 1985 BMW 318i with automatic transmission, Corkwell said. “These cars are literally antiques. The EPA needs to think about reviewing this” regulation. The EPA rule is outdated and should be revisited, agreed Marie Valentine, an engineer for Toyota — the world’s largest automaker — at its technical center in Ann Arbor, Mich. She said in an email that auto-indusSPRING 2011 7

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try fuels experts raised this concern at a March meeting with EPA representatives. The EPA, while declining multiple interview requests, issued a statement to the contrary. “Currently, we don’t have data that indicate that our detergent regulations aren’t sufficient to provide adequate emissions performance,” spokeswoman Catherine C. Milbourn wrote in an April 18 email. Ironically, after the EPA set its minimum, some gas companies reduced their detergent additive levels, automakers claim. So, in 2004, several automakers formed a consortium to set more stringent detergent requirements and certify companies that meet its standards. The Top Tier Detergent Gasoline consortium now includes BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi. More than 20 U.S. fuel brands, including Exxon and Shell, have received the Top Tier designation. Not Pilot. When the Top Tier program started, “not all of our suppliers could make the extra additive available to us,” said Wright, of Pilot. “We felt that if we couldn’t offer a higher level to everyone, we just wouldn’t deviate from the required standard. In addition, we were not receiving many requests from our customers. “That is not to say we would never consider” raising the detergent-additive level, Wright added. Top Tier is beefing up its rules. Originally, the consortium required only that gas company executives sign pledges that their fuel met its performance standards. Now, Studzinski said, it’s instituting more rigorous testing and verification standards.

Gas-price climb fed by many factors
By ISAAC WOLF Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON s Americans prepare for Memorial Day weekend and the busy driving season it ushers in, gas prices — already exceeding $4 a gallon in much of the country — threaten to thwart vacation plans and slow the economic recovery. Gas prices typically climb by about 5 percent in summer, and they’ve already risen steeply this year. From Jan. 3 through May 16, the tab for a gallon of regular unleaded rose from $3.07 to $3.96 — a 29 percent jump. During the same period last year, it went up about 7 percent. High crude-oil costs are being driven in large measure by Mideast turmoil and unprecedented worldwide demand, led by countries such as China and India. But other factors — including market speculation, refining margins and rising corn ethanol prices — add to the

A

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Photo courtesy of Laura Gangi Pond/Shutterstock Images

pump price, some market observers say. Tracing oil from the ground to the gas pump reveals how these costs add up. High prices correspond with record oil consumption. Worldwide use of crude oil and liquid fuels grew by 2.3 million barrels a day in 2010, reaching a record 86.7 million barrels a day, the federal Energy Information Agency reported. The agency predicted consumption would continue growing — by 1.5 million barrels

a day this year and by an additional 1.6 million barrels a day in 2012. There are some signs the price may have already peaked: The price of a barrel of crude oil dropped from $103 on May 10 to $96 on May 17, the energy agency reported. It was $70 a year ago. One key influence on the price motorists pay is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The cartel of 12 oil-rich countries produces about 42 percent

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of the world’s oil, its website says. If OPEC countries “were all investing full-out in production capacity ... the price would be lower,” said Mark Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America, a group of nonprofit consumer organizations. But, Cooper said, OPEC sets gasoline export levels artificially low. Restricting the supply pushes up pump prices by as much as 80 cents a gallon. Another factor is simple economics, some say. International demand, coupled with production, determines the market price of crude oil, said John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing oil producers, refiners and transporters. Others think that market manipulators drive up the cost of crude oil.

“There’s no shortage of crude. There’s an excess of speculation,” Cooper said. He said speculators create huge fluctuations in crude prices — and collect about 20 cents of every dollar spent on gasoline. Among the biggest beneficiaries of higher prices are gas companies that extract oil from beneath the earth’s surface. ExxonMobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported April 28 that its firstquarter earnings rose 69 percent over the same period a year earlier, from $6.3 billion in 2010 to $10.7 billion in 2011. Earnings for Chevron, America’s second-largest oil company, jumped 36 percent, from $4.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010 to $6.2 billion during the same period in 2011. Following the 2008 gas-price spike — when pric-

Breaking down your gas dollar

The U.S. Energy Information Administration tracks the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, breaking it into four components. $1.70 Price at the pump

$0.60 Market price for crude oil $0.45 Re ning Distribution and marketing Taxes 2000
MAY

$0.23

$0.42 2001

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es peaked in mid-July at $4.11 for a gallon of regular unleaded — Congress tasked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission with tightening rules on speculation. The concern was that market investors were betting on, and driving up, the price. On Jan. 26, the commission published a proposal to curb speculation; it has received thousands of comment letters from the public, politicians and trade groups. It’s unclear when the agency will publish final rules — or what they’ll look like. The U.S. Department of Justice announced in April it would investigate whether manipulators were driving up the price of oil. And in May, the Democratled Senate introduced legislation — unlikely to become law — to remove billions of dollars in subsidies to gas companies. Once crude oil has been extracted and purchased

on an international market, it’s refined. Refineries worldwide — including those in the U.S., concentrated in the Gulf Coast — heat, clean and separate the oil into fuels, including gasoline and diesel. Refiners’ earnings have shot up in recent months — from 12.6 cents a gallon in November to 46.6 cents in March, the energy agency reported. Felmy said refiners typically earn about 20 cents for every gallon they process. Refiners and others can lose money, too, when plunging prices require them to sell gas for less than the crude oil they bought. In November 2008, after the price of gas crashed, refiners lost 8 cents a gallon. Adding to the pump price is corn ethanol, an alcohol mixed with gas to create a cleaner, “green” fuel. It can account for up to 10 percent of some gasoline blends. From January to May 12, prices for ethanol fu$2.24 $2.00

$1.69 Price at the pump $1.13 $0.77 $1.12

$0.25

$0.26 $0.19

$0.47

$0.25

$0.21 $0.44
OCT. APRIL 2005

$0.42 2002
MARCH

$0.42 2003 2004

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tures rose 4.8 percent, to $2.49 a gallon, the financial news service Bloomberg reported. American cars’ consumption of ethanol is likely to grow. The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced in January that it has raised the ethanol cap to 15 percent of a gasoline blend. States in the corngrowing Midwest are most likely to be the first to adopt the higher ethanol limit, predicts Troy Green, spokesman for the AAA motor club. There’s also growing concern that diverting crop$2.90 Price at the pump

land from food to fuel production is contributing to a worldwide food crisis. Global food prices jumped 36 percent over last year, in part because of increased fuel production. “More poor people are suffering...because of high and volatile food prices,” World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said at the start of a mid-April global forum on food.
$3.15

$1.45

Market price for crude oil

$1.45 HURRICANE KATRINA

$0.88 Re ning $0.79

Distribution and marketing

$0.22 $0.44
SEPT.

$0.42

Taxes

$0.40 2005 2006
APRIL

2007

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$4.06 Price at the pump

Factors closer to home also affect how much motorists pay. Gas often costs more in wealthy neighborhoods because service stations must pass along higher real estate costs, AAA’s Green said. Credit card companies do well when prices are high, because they rake in 2.5 percent of the transaction cost as opposed to a flat fee, said the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade group representing gas stations. Gas stations often wrongly get blamed for price

$3.20

BARREL OF OIL HITS $145

$3.08

BARREL OF OIL RISES ABOVE $100

$2.09

$2.15

$1.30

$0.13 -$0.08 $0.45 $0.53

$0.46

$0.25

$0.40 2008
JULY

$0.40
NOV.

$0.40 2009 2010
FEB. 2011

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hikes, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the group, based in Alexandria, Va. “The sign says major oil company, but the ownership [record] says otherwise,” Lenard said. Retailers get marketing support to “sell a brand of liquid. ... Nobody who goes inside the store and sees the Coke or Pepsi dispenser thinks the store is owned by Coke or Pepsi.” Retailers earn roughly 14 cents for every gallon of gas sold, NACS reports. Green, of AAA, says they could make more profit selling 12 ounces of coffee than 12 gallons of gas. “There’s more profit on anything inside the store than there is for gas,” Lenard agreed. As further evidence of low profit in retail gas sales, Lenard observed that most of the five major “integrated” oil companies — those that produce, refine and distribute gas — are getting out of the retail business. BP and Conoco Phillips already have, and ExxonMobil, with 540 stores, has announced its intent to do so. Chevron has 403 outlets and Shell has 23. Seasonal changes also affect price. To comply with the federal Clean Air Act, refiners have to switch to their summer blend formulas for many metropolitan markets on or around May 1 each year, Lenard said. To minimize smog that’s more prevalent in warm weather, “the fuels are more complex” — and more expensive to make. Even if crude prices don’t change, gas prices tend to climb about 5 percent in summer because more motorists are on the road, the federal energy agency reports. It could be a long, uncomfortable summer.

W YS A
TO IMPROVE GAS MILEAGE

10
Drive as if there’s an egg under your foot, gradually accelerating from stops. Darting forward from stops, slamming on the brakes and other sudden speed changes can rob up to a third of your gas mileage. Don’t speed. Fuel consumption declines by 7 percent for every 5 mph over 60 mph. Each car has a different speed for maximum fuel economy, but it generally declines above 60 miles mph. Keep your foot off the brake while accelerating. You’ll reduce your gas consumption by as much as 35 percent.

Use these tips to squeeze more distance out of a tank of gas:

1 2 3

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4 5 6 7

Inflate tires as recommended by owner’s manual. Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency by nearly 3 percent.

Tune up. This can improve mileage by up to 4 percent.

Don’t automatically turn on the air conditioner in warm weather. When driving at city speeds, keep windows open to save energy. At highway speeds, turn on air conditioning; open windows create drag, reducing efficiency. Get junk out of the trunk, reducing excess weight.

8 9 10

Photo courtesy of Venus Angel/Shutterstock Images

Replace air filters as recommended by manufacturer. A dirty one can cut gas mileage by up to 10 percent. Check your gas cap to make sure it’s secure and tightly sealed. Almost a fifth of cars — 17 percent — have missing or broken gas caps. Fixing this will improve efficiency by about 1 percent — and will protect the environment from harmful fumes or spills. Consolidate trips. Before you head out to the dry cleaners, check the fridge to see if you need more milk.
Sources: AAA, American Petroleum Institute, Consumer Federation of America and National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

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States weigh raising gas taxes to fill budget potholes
By ISAAC WOLF Scripps Howard News Service

Y

our pick: potholed roads or pricier petroleum. Especially in states that have not raised gasoline taxes in years, these revenues — typically spent on transportation — have dwindled. At the same time, inflation has cut into their purchasing power.
The federal government has not raised the national gas tax of 18.4 cents since 1993, said Ian Parry, senior fellow at Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group applying economics to environmental studies. Because the federal tax hasn’t kept up with inflation, the revenue created for federal transportation projects is “being eroded over time,” Parry said. Taxes, the third-largest component of gas prices, play a major role in how much consumers pay at the pump. They also help explain wide price variances among states. In California, motorists pay 47.7 cents per gallon in taxes — the nation’s highest rate, according to the

So, even as gasoline prices flirt with the $4.11 per gallon record set in July 2008, some cash-strapped states are looking at raising gas taxes. So far this year, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Nebraska introduced legislation hiking their gas taxes and Arkansas might boost its diesel fuel tax, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Tax Foundation. Conversely, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming already have shot down proposed increases this year, NCSL records show. In July, Minnesota plans to begin testing technology that might enable shifting tax collection from gasoline sales to miles driven, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported April 19.

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State gasoline tax rates
Cents per gallon as of Jan. 1, 2011, on top of 18.4-cent federal tax 30-39¢ 20-29.9¢ 40-50¢ 0-19.9¢

WA MT OR ID WY NV CA Highest tax at 47.7 cents NE UT CO KS OK ND SD IA IL MO TN AR MS TX AK LA FL AL GA MN WI NY MI PA IN OH WV KY SC VA NC VT

ME NH CT NJ DE MD

MA RI

AZ
Lowest tax at 8 cents

NM

HI
Sources: American Petroleum Institute and The Tax Foundation
SHNS graphic by John Bruce

American Petroleum Institute, which represents gas companies. Alaska has the lowest tax, charging 8.0 cents a gallon. Alaska subsidizes its public transportation by taxing oil companies that drill there, said Mark Cooper, research director at the Consumer Federation of America, an advocacy group. Some state budgets actually benefit from high gas prices. Those that impose a gas sales tax make more money as the price goes up. (The typical gas tax, or “excise” tax, is a flat tax based on the volume of petroleum sold, not the price.) Indiana hits consumers with a 7

percent sales tax on top of the state’s 18-cents-a-gallon tax. It has collected an extra $202 million over the past year because of higher fuel prices, the Tax Foundation found. John Felmy, the petroleum institute’s chief economist, calls this kind of gas tax a “double whammy” because it hits consumers extra hard when gas prices are already up. On the flip side, states with gas sales taxes lose out on cash when prices fall. Other states imposing a sales tax on top of a gas tax include California (2.25 percent), Illinois (5 percent) and Michigan (6 percent), the Tax Foundation reports.
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THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL MEMPHIS, TENN.

Making news across America
NEWS SENTINEL KNoxVILLE, TENN. THE STUART NEWS FLoRIDA

RECORD SEARCHLIGHT REDDING, CALIF.

COURIER & PRESS EVANSVILLE, IND.

VENTURA COUNTY STAR CALIFoRNIA

ABILENE REPORTER-NEWS TExAS

PASADENA STAR-NEWS CALIFoRNIA

THE GLEANER HENDERSoN, KY. CALLER-TIMES CoRPUS CHRISTI, TExAS

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WCPO CINCINNATI WFTS TAMPA, Fla. WEWS CLEVELAND

WXYZ DETRoIT

KNXV PHoENIx

KSHB KANSAS CITY, Mo.

WPTV WEST PALM BEACH

SGVTRIBUNE.COM SAN GABRIEL, CALIF.

DAILY REPUBLIC FAIRFIELD, CALIF.

WHITTIER DAILY NEWS CALIFoRNIA

EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE PHoENIx

DEDHAM TRANSCRIPT MASSACHUSETTS

MILFORD DAILY NEWS MASSACHUSETTS

KYPOST.COM KENTUCKY EAGLE TRIBUNE NoRTH ANDoVER, MASS.

NEWSCHIEF.COM WINTER HAVEN, FLA.

THE REPORTER NoRTH PENN, PA.

CARROLL COUNTY TIMES MARYLAND

THE TRENTONIAN TRENToN, N.J.

MSNBC

THE TIMES HERALD MoNTGoMERY CoUNTY, PA.

THE KOREA TIMES

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Gasoline mixed to outdated standard
With the approach of Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff of the vacation driving season, most motorists are preoccupied with the cost of unleaded regular gasoline, up 29 percent since the start of the year. But another gasoline-related controversy is drawing in refiners, automakers and fuel experts: the Environmental Protection Agency’s minimum requirements for detergent additives. The addition of small amounts of detergent to gasoline, a federal requirement since 1995, prevents carbon buildup that impairs engine efficiency and increases emissions, sometimes to the point where the car fails its emissions test. Many in the industry told Scripps Howard News Service reporter Isaac Wolf that the EPA’s minimum requirement is woefully low and obsolete, based on data gathered in the 1980s. Indeed, one of the tests EPA requires for approval of a new additive is that it be used for 10,000 miles in a 1985 BMW 318i with an automatic transmission. Said Keith Corkwell, a manager with Lubrizol, a top maker of additives: “We don’t make engines that look like that anymore. The technologies have changed.” Theoretically, the more detergent, the better the gasoline for modern engines. But because of EPA sticking with the old standard, additive levels vary all over the lot. Scripps Howard commissioned a lab to test 10 gasoline samples from five national brands: BP, Citgo, Exxon, Pilot and Shell. The levels ranged from Shell’s premium blend, with 31 milligrams of additives per 100 milliliters, to Pilot’s regular unleaded, with 5.8 milligrams. Because of detergent supplier problems, Pilot decided to stick to EPA’s required minimum standard. The EPA refused to talk with Wolf for this story. As recently as March, the major automakers told the EPA that its additive standard was outmoded. And back in 2004, with the EPA reluctant to act, several major automakers — BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi — formed a consortium to set up their own more stringent standard for additives. The consortium is instituting more rigorous testing. It’s good the industry is acting. Motorists are far too worried about the cost of their gas to start fretting about its cleanliness.
DALE McFEATTERS Scripps Howard News Service

EditoriAl

20 SPRING 2011

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