Executive Officer Catherine Witherspoon issued an executive order Friday allowing the immediate sale of gas formulated for winter use, the Los Angeles Times reported. California normally requires all gas sold until Oct. 31 to be "summer gas" with less evaporation.
The move is expected to increase the amount of hydrocarbons in the air by 50 tons or 6 to 7 percent a day.
"Public health is being sacrificed to keep us on the road," said John White, representing the American Lung Association of California and several environmental groups.
White urged the state to encourage conservation instead. Gas prices, already high, have spiked since Hurricane Katrina temporarily shut down refineries on the Gulf Coast.