In 1978, the Congress enacted the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act to provide a uniform nationwide system for posting accurate octane ratings at the point of sale (on the pump), informing consumers of the octane rating of the gasoline they were purchasing. The act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), respectively, to test the octane ratings and enforce compliance with the act. The General Accounting Office (GAO) was requested to determine (1) the effectiveness of the act in ensuring that octane ratings are posted accurately, (2) the extent and source of any octane mislabeling--the sale of gasoline with an octane rating lower than posted on the pumps--in the gasoline distribution system, and (3) the appropriate federal role in ensuring that octane ratings are posted accurately. Briefly, GAO found that, because FTC and EPA have not carried out their octane testing and enforcement responsibilities under the act, there are no federal controls to ensure that gasoline octane postings are accurate. Although nationwide information on the accuracy of octane ratings is not collected at the federal level, industry and state information indicates that octane mislabeling is a problem in some states. While this information is not sufficient to determine the nationwide extent or source of mislabeling, it indicates that consumers may be paying millions of dollars each year for gasoline with lower octane levels than what is posted on the pump. GAO also is concerned that the act lacks provisions for posting octane ratings for gasoline-alcohol blends and has other provisions that may interfere with state octane enforcement efforts. GAO believes that options exist for redefining federal responsibilities for implementing the act in a way likely to result in greater assurance that posted octane ratings are accurate.

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 40 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00497309
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-90-50
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1990 12:00AM