Many of you hit on the issue of the high levels of benzene (a class A carcinogen) in our gasoline as a probable cause for Oregon’s high ranking in the latest EPA report.  As was widely reported last week (well, except for in the Oregonian, but you can read about it in the USA Today) Oregon and Multnomah County specifically rank in the top geographic areas for population at risk due to toxic air pollution based on 2002 emissions data.

Oregon has nearly twice the ratio of benzene in our gasoline as the rest of the nation.  This is due to both where the fuel originates (Oregon crude oil comes from Alaska which is naturally high in benzene.  Drill, baby, drill!); and most Northwest refineries do not have the equipment to remove benzene when producing gasoline.  To remedy this situation, Senator Wyden pushed the EPA to establish a benzene cap on each refinery in the nation.  Unfortunately refiners have until 2012 to comply.  So just hold your breath for a couple more years…
For more information on this issue, read the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s fact sheet on benzene.

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