EPA Upholds Efficacy of Ethanol Use in Cleaner Burning Gasoline

Denial of California, New York and Connecticut oxygenate waiver requests is big win for ethanol. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jun 3, 2005

The Environmental Protection Agency stood behind scientific facts and denied three state requests to not use oxygenated fuels for reducing smog, allowing the use of ethanol to continue to aid those states in reducing air pollution.

The Clean Air Act requires regions of severe nonattainment for ozone pollution to use reformulated gasoline. California, Connecticut and New York requested waivers from EPA to not use reformulated gasoline or oxygenated fuels in nonattainment areas.

The three states contended that oxygenated fuels actually could add to ozone pollution rather than help alleviate the problem. EPA denied the waivers because the states did not offer credible scientific evidence for their argument.

According to EPA, there was an extensive review of the information submitted by each state in support of its petition and the decision was made after EPA reviewed new information submitted by California and after EPA scientists and engineers conducted additional analysis to address the 9th Circuit Court's decision to vacate the agency's original denial.

EPA Assistant Administrator of Air Jeff Holmstead states, "Congress has required the use of oxygenates as part of the clean fuels program and has made it clear that this requirement can only be waived if a state demonstrates that it prevents or interferes with the state's ability to meet national air quality standards. California, New York and Connecticut did not make this demonstration."

Both American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman and Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen explained that the science is clear in its support of using ethanol as clean-air energy source.

"Ethanol burns cleaner, is lower cost and contains a renewable fuels component. These are all good for the American consumer," Stallman said. "Additionally, ethanol reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil while helping farmers earn income by growing crops used in ethanol production."

The continued use of ethanol in New York, Connecticut and California will reduce smog-forming emissions and expand tight gasoline supplies with an affordable clean octane component," Dinneen says. "But this should not come as a surprise to anyone – it’s what ethanol’s been doing in California, Connecticut and New York for more than a year. Given the EPA’s continued affirmation of ethanol’s clean air benefits, other states considering MTBE bans should rest easy that they can act to protect their water without harming air quality."

Many states and communities across the nation have recognized that ethanol is more than a simple RFG additive. States like Minnesota, which just passed legislation to move to a 20% ethanol blend, see ethanol as a way to extend gasoline supplies, enhance the environment quality and bolster the regional economy.