Motor Fuels:

Issues Related to Reformulated Gasoline, Oxygenated Fuels, and Biofuels

RCED-96-121: Published: Jun 27, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the cost-effectiveness of reformulated gasoline (RFG), focusing on: (1) the potential for oxygenates to reduce petroleum use; and (2) ongoing federal biofuel research.

GAO found that: (1) RFG is more cost-effective than some automotive emission control measures; (2) the extent and nature of air pollution in any specific area determines whether certain pollution control measures are used individually or in combination with other control measures; (3) about 305,000 barrels of petroleum per day are at risk for displacement by the year 2000; (4) this displacement amounts to nearly 3.7 percent of the estimated gasoline consumption for year 2000 and 3.6 percent for 2010; (5) the Department of Energy is focusing its efforts on reducing the cost of growing and converting biomass feedstocks into ethanol, and the Department of Agriculture is focusing on reducing the cost of growing and converting agricultural feedstock into ethanol; (6) advances in biofuels research has reduced the cost of producing ethanol from biomass crops; (7) further cost reductions in producing corn-based ethanol, and the subsequent demand for it, may be constrained by the price of corn and its many uses; and (8) the demand for ethanol will increase assuming the successful development and commercialization of biofuels technology.

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