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May 14, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- State and federal officials from Illinois joined forces today to push for the inclusion of ethanol in the next phase of the Federal Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) Program, a national clean air initiative of vital importance to Illinois agriculture.

"Our position on this issue is simple," said Governor George H. Ryan. "Include ethanol in Phase II of the RFG Program."

The federal Clean Air Act requires certain types of "cleaner burning" motor fuels be sold in certain areas that fail to meet ozone safety standards. Illinois has two ozone non-attainment areas -- the Chicago metropolitan area and the Metro-East area.

Phase II of the of the RFG Program will begin January 1, 2000. Under provisions in the current RFG law, ethanol will no longer meet the pressure requirements for continued use during the summer months. Under Phase I, over 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the Chicago non-attainment area contained 10 percent blends of ethanol.

Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood underscored the Governor's concern. "A significant portion of Illinois' corn crop is used to produce ethanol. Federal EPA regulations threaten Illinois jobs and the livelihood of Illinois farm families."

Currently, Chicago is the nation's top RFG market and the foundation of the domestic ethanol industry. If ethanol cannot be used year-round under Phase II of the RFG Program, Illinois could lose up to 400 million gallons of ethanol demand annually.

Earlier today, the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives introduced identical resolutions which formally express the Illinois General Assembly's support of the Governor's position on this important issue. Senators Duane Noland (R-Blue Mound), William O'Daniel (D-Mt. Vernon) and Lawrence Walsh (D-Elwood) sponsored the Senate resolution. Representatives Julie Curry (D-Mt. Zion) and Bill Mitchell (R-Decatur) sponsored the House resolution.

"I plan on working with all those concerned to ensure that EPA Administrator Browner and EPA officials understand our position and positively respond," Ryan added. "Illinois is the nation's leading producer of ethanol. We need to do all we can to promote and protect the ethanol industry and the families it supports."

Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation expressed their willingness to work with the Governor to include ethanol in Phase II of the RFG Program:

Senator Dick Durbin
"Last year, Congress extended the ethanol tax incentive and sent a clear message that the fuel plays a critical role in our country's clean air strategy. The fight this year is to ensure ethanol's place in Phase II of the RFG Program. It is as important as any other ethanol-related issue we've faced. I look forward to working with my Illinois Delegation colleagues, Governor Ryan and the General Assembly as we make the case for ethanol in Washington and in Springfield."

Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald
"I look forward to working with Governor Ryan, EPA Administrator Browner and other members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to reach the joint goals of a healthy ethanol industry and protection of our state's clean air and clean water."

Congressman J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House (R-14th)
"One out of every five corn rows in my congressional district is turned into ethanol. It's a win-win situation because it helps our environment by creating cleaner air and a win for our economy because it creates more jobs at home and down on the farm. I applaud Governor George Ryan for his leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with him to promote ethanol and to give a boost to American agriculture."

Congressman Ray LaHood (R-18th)
"I am pleased the Governor and the General Assembly are taking this action to protect the ethanol market in Illinois. If EPA's Phase II regulations are implemented as are currently written, the nation's top RFG market could vanish. I will do all I can with Governor Ryan and the Congressional Delegation to keep ethanol as a year-round fuel in Chicago."

Congressman Jerry Weller (R-11th)
"Ethanol is good for Illinois, farmers as well as the folks in town. Ethanol is helping reduce air pollution and the U.S. EPA must ensure that ethanol continues to be part of the solution for reducing air pollution."

Congressman Jerry Costello (D-12th)
"The continued use of ethanol is vital to the state of Illinois. We should work with EPA to ensure that ethanol retains its place in the RFG Program."

Congressman Tom Ewing (R-15th)
"Governor Ryan continues to be a true champion for ethanol producers and for Illinois' environmental concerns. Right now, Illinois enjoys a two-fold benefit from continuing this program year round -- better air quality in our major cities and keeping an important domestic market open for our corn producers."

Congressman Lane Evans (D-17th)
"I am happy to see so much support for ethanol, which is vital for our farmers and our state. As co-chair of the House Alcohol Fuels Caucus I fought hard to win the extension of the ethanol tax incentive and I am committed to fighting again to ensure ethanol has an expanded role in the reformulated gasoline program."

Congressman David Phelps (D-19th)
"Ethanol is absolutely critical to the Illinois economy, and its use will create jobs, reduce air pollution, and help improve our trade imbalance. I am glad to join so many Illinois leaders in demonstrating our firm commitment to ensuring a major role for ethanol in the reformulated gasoline program."

Congressman John Shimkus (R-20th)
"Ethanol is extremely important to corn growers throughout the state. The Congressional Delegation is working together to assure that EPA will allow the continued use ethanol under Phase II of the RFG Program."


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