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July 24, 2001

Governor Signs Law to Eliminate MTBE

SPRINGFIELD, IL - Governor George H. Ryan today signed the MTBE Elimination Act, legislation that will protect Illinois' groundwater and provide a financial boost to the state's farmers.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is a petroleum-based fuel additive designed to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and increase fuel octane. However, it is also a possible carcinogen that has been detected in ground water in Illinois. The MTBE Elimination Act bans the use, manufacture or sale of MTBE as a fuel additive and the transportation of fuel containing MTBE in Illinois, starting three years after the effective date of the act.

"MTBE is known to contaminate ground water. This law bans it's use in Illinois fuel and gives us the opportunity to use more ethanol produced from Illinois-grown corn," Governor Ryan said. "We will produce fuel that promotes clean air and does not contaminate our drinking water."

The value of corn could increase by an estimated 10 cents per bushel with the increase in the demand for ethanol. Nationwide efforts to phase out MTBE are expected to double the demand for ethanol over the next four years, resulting in an additional two billion gallons of production annually. That increase in demand could mean anywhere from $5 billion to $8 billion in additional revenue for the depressed farm economy.

"Illinois has already embraced the use of ethanol over MTBE and we have enjoyed the environmental benefits of that choice," said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Thomas Skinner. "Using ethanol in reformulated gasoline already reduces carbon monoxide emissions in the Chicago metro area by 780 tons per day. And our choice of ethanol over MTBE has limited our state's exposure to ground water contamination."

Illinois is the leading producer of ethanol, which also reduces carbon monoxide emissions and raises octane when added to fuel.

"Our farmers have known for some time that they hold the key to keeping our air and water clean while reducing our reliance on foreign oil," said Illinois Agriculture Director Joe Hampton. "I know they appreciate this strong statement of support for their efforts from Governor Ryan and the legislature."

Under the MTBE Elimination Act, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will provide technical assistance and funding to local governments to test drinking water for MTBE contamination.


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