Air Pollution:

Oxygenated Fuels Help Reduce Carbon Monoxide

RCED-91-176: Published: Aug 13, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Richard L. Hembra
(202) 275-6111


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the extent to which the use of oxygenated fuels in motor vehicles has reduced carbon monoxide (CO) levels in six cities; and (2) other measures those cities have taken to meet national CO standards.

GAO found that: (1) city officials reported that using oxygenated fuels during winter months reduced CO emissions by an estimated 10 to 20 percent; (2) the oxygenated fuels' economic attractiveness and convenience enhanced their widespread acceptance and use; (3) since state and local officials believed that no single CO reduction strategy would guarantee that cities met and maintained the national air quality standard for CO, cities used a variety of CO reduction measures and implemented programs to help prevent excessive CO levels in the future; (4) all six cities required vehicle inspection, maintenance, and emission testing programs; (5) two cities introduced programs to reduce the number of single-occupant trips and vehicle miles travelled, and required employers to assess employee commuting habits and encourage employees to use alternate forms of transportation; (6) in addition to lowering current CO levels, one city enacted an ordinance requiring developers to report any effects their projects could have on the city's air quality and to incorporate pollution reduction measures into those projects; and (7) one city plans to reduce vehicle miles travelled by locating essential services and facilities within residential areas and placing commercial centers on public transit lines.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA states that it agrees totally with the recommendation. Specifically, the agency stated that it has and will continue to use the results achieved in the six cities in assessing the expected benefits of oxygenated fuels in other cities.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should make maximum use of the carbon monoxide reduction experiences of the six cities in providing guidance to additional cities that will be using oxygenated fuels and in evaluating their required revised state implementation plans.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »