09 January 2001 19:26 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Two corn-belt lawmakers urged the Clinton administration Tuesday to reject California's request for a waiver of federal fuel requirements that have boosted demand for ethanol and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
"In the closing days of your administration, I respectfully ask you not to grant the state of California's request for a waiver from the reformulated gasoline program's (RFG) oxygen content requirement," said Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat-Illinois) in a letter to President Bill Clinton.
Separately, Representative Tom Osborne (Republican-Nebraska) asked Clinton "to deny any waiver of the oxygenated fuels requirement for any state."
California has asked to be excused from a federal 2% oxygen requirement in RFG because of concerns over MTBE contamination in groundwater. State officials also fear that ethanol, which is primarily made from corn in the US, might not be an adequate replacement. They want refiners to have the flexibility to make RFG without using any oxygenates.
EPA has been conducting an independent evaluation of the data California has provided in support of its waiver request. If EPA determines the statutory conditions exist to grant a waiver, it must hold at least a 30-day comment period before taking final action. But some on Capitol Hill fear that Clinton - with his last day in office only ten days off - may grant California the RFG waiver in belief that it will be difficult for the incoming administration of President-elect George W Bush to reverse the waiver process.
In order to grant California a waiver, Durbin noted that the administration would have to conclude that ethanol is a pollutant. "First, such a conclusion is not supported by the facts," he wrote.
"Second, if such a conclusion were made in an effort to accelerate the removal of MTBE, it would have a severely negative impact on the future development and growth of the domestic ethanol industry and on American agriculture," Durbin said.
The Illinois senator noted that one out of every six rows of corn grown in his state--280 million bushels--goes to ethanol production, and that every 23 gallons of ethanol displaces a barrel of foreign oil.
Osborne said that with crude oil prices at record levels and petroleum-based MTBE contaminating drinking water supplies nationwide, the US should continue to promote "value-added production of domestic, renewable fuels, like ethanol."
Nebraska's farmers support increased ethanol production as a way for the US to achieve "a more self-reliant energy policy," Osborne added. "Ethanol creates jobs and utilises our commodity surpluses in addition to being health for the environment."
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
|ICIS news FREE TRIAL|
|Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index|