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Cleaner Burning Gasoline Comes To the Consumer at a Price

CONSUMERS may be pleased that cleaner-burning gasoline will be available next year under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA). But they have not seen the price tag yet, warns John Hall, chairman of Ashland Oil Inc. in Ashland, Ky.

For consumers, the extra cost of next year's reformulated gasoline will be 2 to 4 cents per gallon, Mr. Hall says. ``We wonder if the industry will be able to pass through even that much cost,'' he says, given refiners' experience with mandated improvements to other fuels.

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Speaking to the 28th Auto/Petroleum Industry Forum in Dearborn, Mich., last week, Hall noted that total tailpipe emissions in the United States already are down 64 percent from what they were in the mid-1950s, even though total vehicle miles are up 181 percent.

Emissions per vehicle will decline further under the CAAA, which requires gasoline to be reformulated four different times by 2000 to meet increasingly strict environmental standards.

The National Petroleum Council estimates that refiners will spend $37 billion during this decade to comply with the CAAA - more than the $31 billion book value of all refineries in the US in 1990.

Hall predicts ``a proliferation of fuels'' having different grades and types. The resulting logistical problems for product pipelines, fuel delivery services, and filling stations will test the nation's supply and delivery system, he says.

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