LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Energy and Environmental Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely has formally requested approval to opt out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's federal reformulated gasoline (RFG) program in Boone, Campell, and Kenton counties in Kentucky.

Models by Cabinet environmental scientists were completed in July and showed that removal of RFG in these areas would not interfere with National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The EPA has granted preliminary approval of the modeling and the final decision could come as early as 2018. A similar request from Cincinnati was approved last year.

“Our modeling demonstrated that there is no significant benefit to keeping the reformulated gasoline in this area,” Secretary Charles Snavely said. “So it makes economic and environmental sense to petition the EPA to replace it with conventional gasoline.”

RFG was introduced to the region in 1995 under then-Governor Brereton Jones. Since that time, emissions of ozone precursors, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides have steadily decreased in Northern Kentucky. The area has complied with standards since August 2010.

The Cabinet has suggested that the switch could say up to $41 million each year.

“The U.S. EPA recognizes that RFG and conventional gasoline are now essentially the same,” said Brent Cooper, Northern Kentucky Chamber, President and CEO. “Removal of the RFG program will provide a significant economic benefit to NKY… A motorist who drives 15,000 miles per year, with a vehicle that gets 15 miles per gallon will save $220 per year when RFG is eliminated.”

During a public comment period, only letters in support of the switch were received. Commenters noted that advances in commercial gasoline production have made RFG unnecessary. Others commented on the relatively higher price of gasoline in the area compared to other regions along the Ohio River.