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EPA Publishes Final Boutique Fuels List

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a list of boutique fuels that finalizes a draft list put forth in June. (Earlier post.) This list now serves as the basis for any future adoption of boutique fuels into State Implementation Plans.

Boutique fuels are the specialized blends produced for a specific state or area of the country to meet those specific state and local air quality requirements. Roughly 15 states have adopted their own clean fuel programs for part or all of the state. These state fuel programs make up nine different kinds of fuels.

The federal programs (Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) and low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP)) make up six different kinds of fuel. The new list now reduces the number and type of different fuels used around the country.

Too many fuel types in a given area may present challenges for production, distribution, and storage during periodic disruptions like refinery shutdowns and weather-related incidents. This was highlighted during the disruption caused in 2005 by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Earlier in 2006, President Bush directed EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to convene a Boutique Fuels Task Force, which published a report and draft list in June.

Type of Fuel ControlPADD**Region - State
*Dates listed in parentheses refer to summer gasoline programs with different RVP control periods from the federal RVP control period, which runs from June 1 through September 15.
**Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs)
***Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP)
RVP*** of 7.8 psi 1
1- ME (May 1-Sept.15)*
3 - PA
5 - IN
5 - MI
6 - TX (May 1-Oct. 1)*
RVP of 7.2 psi 2 5 - IL
RVP of 7.0 psi 2
7 - KS
7 - MO
4 - AL
6 - TX
RVP of 7.0 with gasoline sulfur provisions 1 4 - GA
Low Emission Diesel 3 6 - TX
Cleaner Burning Gasoline (Summer) 5 9 - AZ (May 1 - Sept 30)
Cleaner Burning Gasoline (non-Summer) 5 9 - AZ (Oct 1- Apr 30)
Winter Gasoline (aromatics & sulfur) 5 9 - NV




When you look at the EPA site list for LA winter program, it just means that they have to have 2% ethanol. This is why I call ICEs smog pumps. The sooner we can get to hybrids, EV, PHEV or fuel cells the better.

Doug Snodgrass

SJC, I agree wholeheartedly with your statement.

I fully believe that there is a real hunger for energy alternatives in the general population and the majors aren't going to make these alternatives available based on their own good will. Any company who makes meaningful, affordable and user-friendly change will thrive.

I'm personally in the corner of hydrogen ( though I'll cheer any advances that help save our planet.


I look at market potential. A good idea is not going to do much if it is not widely used. I would like to see FC cars that run on gasoline. NECAR reformed methanol for a PEM fuel cell. It is technically possible to reform gasoline for SOFCs. But you have to ask, is the public going to buy them in great numbers? Let's say that a standard sedan costs $20k and gets 20 mpg. Now the FC car costs $40K and gets 40 mpg. Let's say the reliability is the same. The pollution is much less with the FC, but it is a new technology. Will 10% of the cars sold be FC within 10 years? Would this adoption rate be good enough to clear the air and reduce imported oil significantly?


At Delphi's claim of $254/kW, a 30 kW fuel cell would cost about $7600.  That plus some batteries would be sufficient for continuous operation under most conditions (climbing a 5% grade up a mountain would slow down to something like 45 MPH after the batteries were drained).

Mileage in a vehicle with the characteristics of a Prius would probably be closer to 75 MPG than 40.

I still don't think this is the most desirable option.  Making a FC vehicle which only runs on liquid fuel still leaves the owners hostage to fuel shortages and does not allow non-chemical energy supplies to be used.  It would be better to spend $2000 on an Atkinson-cycle sustainer engine which allows 50 MPG operation, spend the remaining $5600 on bigger batteries and a grid interface, and go PHEV.  If 2/3 of driving was on grid electricity it would give an effective economy of 150 MPG, twice as good as the fuel cell alone would allow.


That will probably be the case. We tend to take things in gradual steps. I am not a liquid fuel fan, I think delivery of NG is preferable, but you have to do with what is available now and work your way towards where you want to go. My question was mainly, will any of this get us where we want to go? We tend to get interested in a technology, but fail to question the effectiveness of reaching the end goal. Will 1% of the vehicles on the road being hybrid help us reach the goal in time? What is the goal, cleaner air, less imported oil? What time frame is soon enough, 10 years to slow global warming, 5 years to make us immune to oil embargos?

Too many fuel types in a given area may present challenges for production, distribution, and storage during periodic disruptions like refinery shutdowns and weather-related incidents. This was highlighted during the disruption caused in 2005 by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In general, I think this is crap. It's a lame excuse. Look: if there are 3 different maximum sulfur content requirements, then you can always deliver the least-sulfur content to the other two districts too. The same goes for a number of different criteria: just refine for the strictest requirement, and you'll pass all standards weaker. This isn't true for all kinds of criteria, but for many of them it would work.

The reason why there were so many problems were that (1) too many refineries were in the same geographic location, (2) there is insufficient public transportation infrastructure to handle an increase in demand for public transit (due to gas supply shortages), and (3) the oligopolies for refining and distribution of gasoline allowed the companies to not deal with the risks of "Katrinas" ahead of time.

"Botique fuel" is Republican framing. It's specialized, its scientific, and its designed so that a local community can adequately address its environmental needs. Referring to the blends as boutique fuels is like referring to Baptists as boutique Christians.


I remember Senate hearings on C-Span maybe 5-6 years ago. They asked reps from the major oil companies if they would build any more refineries, because parts of the country were experiencing shortages when a refinery went down. The answer from all the companies was no, we do not intend to build any, even though the country may need them. So much for the private sector providing what the country needs.


SJC, you didn't ask if the majors intended to expand their existing refineries (which they have been doing).

"Boutique fuel" is, IIRC, an EPA term.  To the extent that blending components require different vapor pressures and octane ratings to be mixed and different refining operations to make, the problem of "boutique fuels" will continue.


The hearings had to do with building a refinery in the Great Lakes area. It sounded like barges up the Mississipi were not working out well under all circumstances and they would like at least 1 refinery for the Great Lakes states and just bring in the crude through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, I would imagine. The oil companies said no, and in fact they were trying to sell refineries to anyone that wanted to buy them.



There are many more specs than just sulfer, and besides it costs a lot to just refine for the strictest standard and then "give away" the tolerance to the other states. Far better for the states or the EPA to agree on a national fuel standard and get rid of boutique fuels.


Boutique fuels are an anti-competition measure which the oil companies would be loathe to get rid of.  If the only other refinery which can make your legally-mandated blending component is in Europe, you're guaranteed a great markup.


Boutique fuels have made California into a refiner's paradise. There are only 13 refineries nationwide that make California gas, and a few years ago one of the oil companies wanted to shut another one down (They have since sold it to Flying J, which is now running more oil through it than before). Now, I understand that these operations must make a profit, and that a company will act to protect those profits. But even I have to say "wait a minute, here" in some circumstances.

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