January 12, 2004

Independent review planned for new data on MMT effects

Environment Canada is seeking comments by January 30, 2004 concerning a proposed framework for establishing a process for an independent third-party review of new information about the effects of the fuel additive MMT (methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl) on vehicle emissions and emissions control systems. The planned review will fulfill a 1998 commitment made by the federal government.

MMT is added to gasoline by some oil refiners to increase its octane rating. In Canada, about 90% of the pool of gasoline is estimated to contain this fuel additive.

Over the past year and a half, new information on the effect of MMT on vehicle tailpipe emissions has become publicly available. The review will include, but is not limited to, a July 2002 report released by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) and its Canadian affiliate (AIAMC), the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association (CVMA), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, as well as a subsequent analysis by Ethyl Corporation, the marketer of MMT, challenging the report's conclusions.

More recently, some vehicle manufacturers have expressed concern that MMT may impair the emissions performance of more advanced technology systems being gradually phased in with the 2004 model year in order to meet new, more stringent vehicle emission control regulations in Canada.

The third-party review process will assess existing studies as well as any recent data describing the effect of gasoline containing MMT on the emissions on the latest generation of vehicles and on their emission control devices. It will provide an objective review of available technical information and help parties to better understand and appreciate whether MMT affects vehicle emissions and, if so, of any uncertainties associated with such effects.

The review is not intended to make any policy recommendations; its results will provide a technical basis to help the federal government determine whether it needs to take action on this issue.

Environment Canada proposes that the third-party review process be led by a recognized independent organization with a proven track record of providing governments with objective advice on scientific matters. The third party would administer all aspects of the review process, including the selection of panel members.

Given that an assessment of relevant technical information would require a multi-disciplinary approach, it is expected that the third-party would convene a panel that includes a range of experts. Environment Canada proposes that the third-party's assessment include, but not be limited to, the effects of MMT on vehicle emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, respirable particulate matter, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

The prime task of the third party would be to produce a report providing an independent and expert review and assessment of relevant technical information on the effects of MMT on vehicle tailpipe emissions and vehicle emission control systems, as well as its substantive conclusions based upon the review. The overall objective of the review is to determine whether MMT affects vehicle emissions and emission control systems, and if so, the direction and magnitude of such effects and the associated uncertainties.

The review framework proposal may be viewed on Environment Canada's Green Lane Web site, www.ec.gc.ca. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. (EST) on January 30, 2004, and should be directed to MMT: Framework for an Independent Third-Party Review, c/o Don Stewart, Transportation Systems Branch Environment Canada 10th floor, 351 St Joseph Blvd, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3; FAX 819/953-7815, E-mail Don.Stewart@ec.gc.ca.

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