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    Arizona Granted MTBE Waiver

    EPA ruling expands the number of refineries where gas stations can buy their fuel supplies.

    MESA, Ariz. -- Arizona received tentative approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate the use of a special blend of gasoline, state officials said.

    Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality director Steve Owens said that the EPA could drop its requirement for minimum oxygen levels in summertime gasoline, according to the Arizona Daily Sun. The requirement, aimed at reducing air pollution, is achieved by using the MTBE fuel additive.

    The EPA's tentative approval follows a measure passed by the state legislature in 2001 that called for MTBE to be phased out of use because the additive can leach into groundwater drinking supplies.

    Owens said the EPA's waiver would likely expand the number of refineries where gas stations can buy their supplies and won't hurt air quality.

    "There are a number of other fuels that are manufactured by different suppliers that can achieve the same ozone-reducing results," he said. "We are very confident that there will be no adverse impact at all on air quality."

    Before giving final approval, the EPA has requested additional documentation from the state that includes detailed pollution data to support the state's argument that ground ozone levels won't rise, Owens said.

    If the waiver is ultimately approved, gasoline without the additive should be available in the summer of 2004, the report said. The change won't affect winter blends of gasoline, which contain 10 percent of ethanol to reduce auto emissions of carbon dioxide.

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