Urban Air Initiative: Real harm is to keep using gasoline

By Urban Air Initiative | September 11, 2015

Washington, D.C.--Officials from the Urban Air Initiative called the recent effort by the American Petroleum Institute to discredit ethanol a smokescreen to hide the fact that the toxic components in gasoline are endangering the lives of millions of people.

UAI President David VanderGriend responded to a new study and a press blitz by the petroleum industry as "shameful".  While the context of the study was to continue to derail the renewable fuel standard, VanderGriend noted that this is really about the petroleum industry blocking competition in the fuel market and making toxic and dangerous fuels.  In a call with reporters yesterday, API cited a study they commissioned as evidence of "severe economic harm"  if they meet the law requiring them to offer higher ethanol blends. Mr. VanderGriend said the real economic harm is the health impacts of the highly toxic gasoline they produce resulting in thousands of premature deaths annually.

"Replacing toxic compounds in gasoline used to increase octane can dramatically improve air quality in urban areas. Petroleum based aromatic hydrocarbons are the predominant source of particulates emitted from vehicles that directly enter the blood stream and have been linked to a range of respiratory and even neurological diseases," said VanderGriend.  "We have amassed a data base of peer reviewed studies funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and automakers that confirm higher ethanol blends could save billions of dollars per year for consumers at the pump, and for taxpayers and businesses in reduced health- and productivity-related costs."

VanderGriend went on to say that the twisted logic of the oil industry in not meeting the requirements of the law is to threaten to raise prices and emit more pollution.  An API spokesperson recently was quoted saying "Lowering aromatic content would require further processing of crude oil. That would increase capital cost at refineries, thereby also increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

"We have good news for our friends in the petroleum industry," said VanderGriend.  “Ethanol is a finished, refined product requiring less, not more oil, lowering aromatic content,  and it will lower greenhouse gas emissions.   So ... problem solved."