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New Book Exposes EPA, Oil Industry Failure to Clean up Gasoline and Develop Alternatives

Embargoed For Release:

Washington, D.C., May 29, 2023: Set against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol and the Nation’s Memorial Day parade, a new book, Gasolinegate: What’s in Our Gasoline is Killing Us was released here today on the 40-year struggle to break the country’s dependence on petroleum, reliance on gasoline, and the negative impacts they have on public health and the economy.

Authors Burl Haigwood and Doug Durante chronicle their four decades of working on this issue with dozens of interviews and firsthand accounts of inaction by Congress, the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and obstruction by the oil industry. The resulting stranglehold on the motor fuel market produced consumer gasoline containing unnecessarily high levels of Benzene and other carcinogens that endanger public health when cleaner alternatives are available and even required under existing law.

“We think it is fitting to finally tell this story today, here at Freedom Plaza, when we honor our military and their sacrifices to defend our freedom and personal mobility. So much of our presence in the Middle East and worldwide is to ensure the continued flow of oil, and we remain under the thumb of OPEC and many hostile nations. When considering the total society costs of gasoline, public health, defense, and federal subsidies, to name just a few, consumers are paying over $15 per gallon.” said Burl Haigwood.

Durante added, “It is indefensible that the petroleum industry still has a defacto 90% monopoly on transportation fuels with gasoline. The lack of consumer choice empowers them to charge the public whatever they want. We looked at the history of energy and environmental laws and regulations that should have created a truly free market. Instead, oil interests have suppressed every alternative and helped bury them under EPA regulations.” He added that Henry Ford designed the first automobiles to run on renewable ethanol, which the U.S. could produce in abundance.

Both authors noted that as bad as it is subject to oil industry pricing and market manipulation, the health risks of gasoline are even worse. As far back as 1948, the American Petroleum Industry testified to Congress that there was no safe threshold for Benzene, yet it remains in gasoline and leads to the formation of other toxic pollutants that infringe on the public safety rights of citizens every day.

With over 300 citations, the book details dozens of opportunities the EPA had to lead the effort to establish cleaner and safer domestically produced fuels – but failed. The book also reveals how emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed the oil industry collaborating with the EPA to manipulate computer models to make gasoline appear cleaner than alternatives.

The authors noted that while electric vehicles will play a role in the future, we will be using trillions of gallons of gasoline for decades. There are no reasonable justifications to prevent the EPA from cleaning up gasoline immediately with their existing authority.

Durante stated, “Innovative solutions to replace benzene such as the Next Generation Fuels Act introduced in Congress would create a pathway for High Octane Low Carbon gasoline blends using renewable ethanol, providing immediate climate, health, and cost benefits as EVs overcome the many challenges they face.”

Joining the authors at the event was Washington, D.C. Representative Oye Owolewa, who reminded reporters that cleaning up gasoline needs to be an Environmental Justice priority. Vehicles emitting unnecessarily high levels of toxic fine particulates that lead to many respiratory and neurological diseases should not continue to be ignored.

Representative Owolewa stated, “I am here today with some of my friends in the local environmental community because we are very concerned about inner-city residents who are particularly vulnerable to high concentrations of auto emissions in urban areas and near major highways. As documented in Gasolinegate, EPA acknowledges those emissions result in significant health problems. While we work here in Washington and other cities to develop alternative fuels, cleaning up gasoline should be a priority, given the millions of cars driven daily. President Biden has the authority to achieve this low-hanging fruit environmental justice objective with the stroke of his pen.”

“We dedicated Gasolinegate to the late Col. William Holmberg, a highly decorated Marine veteran and leader in the environmental and alternative fuels movements. Bill always preached that Congress and EPA could improve fuel quality by replacing carcinogenic octane additives with cleaner burning ethanol,” said Haigwood. “Hopefully, our book will help us achieve that goal by showing the public how and why they got duped into believing gasoline was safe and there were no alternatives. Helping the federal government save jobs, lives, and money is a civic duty I hope others will also embrace.”

Gasolinegate received significant early praise with former Nebraska Senator and Governor Ben Nelson, author of Death of the Senate, saying, “Gasolinegate is the first comprehensive book to chronicle decades of inaction by the petroleum industry to clean up its gasoline and the failure of Congress and EPA to make them do so, resulting in lives lost, dollars wasted, and a weakened nation.”

Scott Sklar, Professor, The George Washington University (GWU) and co-author The Forbiddden Fuel: Power Alcohol in the 20th Century, said, “Gasolinegate is an information milestone of how big oil set out to brutally control the energy market which buttresses recent 2023 revelations of how they subverted response to global climate change science. Political strong-arming and deceit adds true color to this intriguing story, made public.”

Gasolinegate, published by New Degree Press, is available at Amazon, Kobo, and public libraries. Burl Haigwood stated, “We are kicking off our “The Buck Stops Here” public education campaign by discounting the eBook from $9.99 to 99 cents on Amazon. This is part of our commitment to make Gasolinegate accessible to as many people as possible. #Gasolinegate!”


For Further Information Contacts:

Burl Haigwood

Doug Durante