Governor Ryan Praises Inclusion of Ethanol in Federal Clean Air Program; Says Illinois is Capable of Meeting Increased Demand for Clean-Burning Fuel Additives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2001
SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan hails the Bush administration's decision to maintain the oxygenate requirement in the federal Clean Air Act as an environmentally- and financially-sound ruling that will reduce air pollution and raise farm income.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday denied California's request for an exemption from the oxygenate requirement. The decision means all states must continue to comply with Clean Air Act standards that require motor fuel burned in the nation's most populous cities to contain clean-burning additives known as oxygenates.
Governor Ryan urged President Bush to reject California's request, writing a letter to Mr. Bush in April and traveling personally to Washington to stress the importance of the issue in a meeting with the White House. The governor cited the harm the waiver would cause Illinois farmers and rural communities. Illinois leads the nation in ethanol production, processing 40 percent of the ethanol consumed in the United States annually, and the industry employs nearly 5,000 workers.
Most California gas stations blend their fuel with the oxygenate additive MTBE. But, beginning in 2002, the state will start phasing-out use of MTBE because of environmental concerns. Rather than switch to another additive, though, California opted to request a waiver from the requirement altogether.
"Illinois produces a readily-available alternative to MTBE - corn-based ethanol - that is environmentally safe and proven to improve air quality," Governor Ryan said. "Best of all, it's an inexhaustible energy source that can be grown to match motorists' demand for fuel. I applaud President Bush for recognizing these benefits and making ethanol part of our national energy policy."
"Illinois ships between ten and twelve million gallons of ethanol to California each month, about 25 percent of the ethanol that will be required after MTBE is banned," Illinois Agriculture Director Joe Hampton said. "And with production of more than 1.5 billion bushels of corn a year, Illinois certainly has a ready supply of raw materials that can be converted into fuel to meet the additional demand."
"The Illinois ethanol industry contributes more than $1 billion to the state economy each year and we expect today's decision will lead to new investments in ethanol facilities across this state, generating new jobs and new economic opportunity. The Ryan administration's commitment to assisting our state's ethanol industry through research and infrastructure funding and other incentives means Illinois will be able to meet the demand for increased ethanol production," added DCCA Director Pam McDonough.
Currently, ethanol is contained in 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the Chicago area. The additive has been so successful in reducing smog-causing compounds that its use has won praise from the Chicago chapter of the American Lung Association.
"The addition of clean oxygenates, such as ethanol, reduce toxic air emissions, such as benzene, without threatening our drinking water," Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Tom Skinner said. "The reformulated gasoline program in the Chicago area has been a major component in efforts to improve air quality in the region."
Ethanol production adds an estimated 25-cents to price of a bushel of corn.