Bush May Ease Environmental Restrictions on Gasoline

The Bush administration is responding to higher gas prices by considering a loosening of environmental requirements for a variety of gasoline blends. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans suggested yesterday that such a move could lower gas prices, noting that refineries in some parts of the U.S. are required to produce more than a dozen different varieties of gasoline to help combat specific pollution problems. He said the administration is worried about the impact gas prices are having on the economy and argued that if people are driving less they might be spending less at the grocery store. Evans also announced that the administration might consider streamlining the permit system for oil refineries, which could pave the way for construction of a new refinery in the U.S. for the first time in 25 years. Enviros said that rolling back requirements for the use of cleaner-burning fuels could lead to exacerbated pollution problems in major cities.