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April 5, 2001

Governor Ryan Urges President to Deny California Oxygenate Waiver Request

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today urged President George W. Bush to deny a motor fuel oxygenate waiver for California, saying the waiver would cause significant harm to the ethanol industry and to Illinois farmers.

California has requested a complete waiver from the oxygenate requirement of the Clean Air Act rather than consider alternative oxygenate additives. Most California fuel pumps currently use the oxygenate additive MTBE, which is being phased out because of health and environmental concerns.

"We are fortunate to have an alternative to MTBE - ethanol - which, through use in the Chicago metropolitan area, demonstrates the success of the reformulated gasoline program," Ryan said. "Refiners in areas such as Milwaukee, St. Louis and portions of California have chosen to use ethanol to comply with the reformulated gasoline program's oxygenate requirement."

Oxygenate additives reduce emissions of smog-causing compounds. Ninety-five percent of the fuel in the Chicago area is mixed with corn-based ethanol in order to meet the oxygenate requirement. The program has been so successful in improving air quality that the Chicago reformulated gasoline program has been praised by the American Lung Association of Chicago.

Ryan also noted that there is much at stake for Illinois farmers.

"The economic numbers are staggering: approximately 670 million bushels of American corn is used to produce clean burning ethanol; ethanol production adds about 25-cents to every bushel of corn grown in the U.S.; and the ethanol industry provides thousands of jobs in many rural communities," Ryan said. "We believe that allowing any part of the waiver request would drive commodity prices down further at a time when farmers continue to suffer from low farm income and high energy prices."

Governor Ryan's letter points out that ethanol producers can and will meet the fuel demands of California. Currently between ten and twelve million gallons of ethanol are shipped to California each month, representing about 25 percent of the ethanol that would be required once MTBE is phased out.

Illinois leads the country in ethanol production, with four processing facilities generating 740 million gallons of ethanol each year.


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