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Fuels and Fuel Additives

Basic Information

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EPA clean fuels programs help protect public health and the environment by controlling motor vehicle fuel properties or content. The fuel quality requirements complement vehicle and engine emission standards, and together limit pollution from a wide variety of vehicles, engines, and equipment.


The first EPA clean fuel program established standards in 1973 that gradually reduced the amount of lead in gasoline. The lower lead content reduced health risks in two ways: first by reducing direct lead emissions from gasoline-fueled vehicles; and second by enabling use of advanced after-treatment technologies such as catalytic converters that control other kinds of pollutants in vehicle exhaust. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and EPA regulations banned lead in gasoline after 1995.

Fuel programs, in place since 1989, have required gasoline to meet volatility standards to decrease evaporative emissions of gasoline in the summer months when ozone levels are typically at their highest.

In the early 1990s, EPA began requirements for increased gasoline oxygen content in certain areas of the country to help control emissions of carbon monoxide during the cold months, and established the reformulated gasoline program to reduce emissions of smog-forming and toxic pollutants.

More recently, EPA has promulgated a series of regulations to reduce hazardous air pollutants from motor vehicles by controlling fuel benzene content and other fuel parameters that affect emissions of air toxics such as benzene, I,3-butadiene, acrolein, and formaldehyde.

Current Clean Fuel Programs

EPA is continuing to expand its clean fuel programs to cover more types of fuels and to achieve even broader environmental impacts.

Current fuels programs have drastically reduced allowable sulfur levels in gasoline, and in diesel fuel used in equipment ranging from highway trucks to ocean-going vessels. As occurred when lead was removed from gasoline, the diesel sulfur content limits reduce health risks in two ways, by reducing direct particulate emissions, and by allowing use of technologies that reduce other harmful emissions.

The most recent clean fuel programs establish requirements for renewable fuel use in the United States. Use of renewable fuels can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can lessen our dependence on imported petroleum.

If you have questions or request information, please contact the appropriate support or help line found on the Support & Help page.

Please visit EPA's Transportation and Air Quality web-based repository of mobile source documents, Document Index System (DIS). This searchable repository contains regulations, Federal Register notices, policy letters, and guidance documents.

Please visit our Related Links page for other fuel related information within EPA, other U.S. Agencies, and other fuel related websites.

This page is maintained by EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ).
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