US oil companies continue to avoid MMT

MMT in only 0.02% of us gasoline, says EPA

provided by Environmental Defense Fund

esponding to a letter survey con- ducted this spring and summer by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), US oil companies representing over 75 percent of US oil refining capacity indicate that they are not currently using MMT in US gasoline. The survey confirms earlier reports by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing use of MMT in the US gas supplies is negligible, at only 0.02% of all gasoline sold in the US. MMT is the controversial manganese-based additive produced by the Ethyl Corporation, which produced leaded-gas additives for decades.

The continued rejection of MMT in the US occurs at the same time many of these same oil companies must decide whether to resume use of MMT in Canadian gasoline. Last year, the Canadian government banned the use of MMT, but reversed that decision in July in the wake of a lawsuit by Ethyl Corporation.

"EDF has found that the overwhelming majority of the world's largest oil companies have rejected MMT in their US products," said William J. Roberts, an EDF senior attorney. "These same firms should recognize that the health uncertainties of MMT apply with equal force to their products in Canada. The oil industry should take the same responsible, prudent step in Canada that it has taken in the US, and voluntarily avoid the use of MMT."

The EPA had previously refused to approve MMT for sale based on potential health concerns, but in December, 1996, the agency was compelled to allow the sale by a narrow court ruling that did not address health issues. Airborne manganese at high doses is known to cause disabling neurological impairments in movement and speech with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, but the public health impacts of the long-term, lower dose manganese exposures resulting from MMT use are still unknown. In addition, the American Automobile Manufacturer's Association advises consumers not to use manganese gas additives due to possible damage to automotive systems.

EDF and other environmental and public health organizations have urged US oil companies to refrain from using MMT in US gasoline products until adequate health testing has been completed. According to EDF's survey, the following companies are not currently using MMT in US gasoline: Amerada Hess, Amoco, Arco, BP America, Chevron, CITGO, Clark, Conoco, Exxon, Marathon, Mobil, Pennzoil, Phillips, Shell (Equilon), Sun, Texaco, Unocal (Tosco). Combined, these companies represent approximately 75 percent of US oil refining capacity.

EPA has confirmed these results by reporting to EDF in a request under the Freedom of Information Act that "MMT is in only about 0.02% of the [US] gasoline," according to Charles N. Freed, Director of the Fuels and Energy Division at EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

  The Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national, NY-based nonprofit organization, represents 300,000 members. EDF links science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and economically viable solutions to today's environmental problems. Contact: Bill Roberts: (212) 505-2100; Lisa Swann (202) 387-3500;