EPA is proposing, at the request of the State of Maine, to require the sale of reformulated gasoline (RFG) in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox and Lincoln counties in southern Maine starting in June 2015. RFG is required in cities with high smog levels and is optional elsewhere. RFG is currently used in 17 states and the District of Columbia. About 30% of gasoline sold in the US is reformulated.
The purpose of the federal RFG program is to improve air quality in certain areas through the use of gasoline that is reformulated to reduce motor vehicle emissions that lead to the formation of ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone can cause breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection.
States which are designated by EPA as part of the Ozone Transport Region, such as Maine, can “opt-in” to the program.
In 2013, the State of Maine enacted a law establishing the use of RFG in the southern Maine counties beginning 1 May 2014. The Maine legislature subsequently postponed the requirement for sale of RFG until 1 June 2015. EPA is proposing that sale of RFG be required for refiners, importers, and distributors by 1 May 2015, and for retailers and wholesale purchasers-consumers by 1 June 2015.
Maine’s request to opt-in to the RFG program was in response to an industry group’s interest in having a common fuel throughout many areas in New England. Maine DEP’s Air Bureau Director, Marc Cone expects that this initiative will continue to enhance protection of Maine citizens by minimizing ozone precursors and maintain attainment of the ozone federal air quality standard.
EPA is requesting comments regarding whether there will be sufficient capacity to supply RFG to the seven Maine counties by the prescribed deadlines. Comments on EPA’s proposal and sufficiency of RFG capacity will be accepted for 30 days beginning when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.