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March 16, 2001

USEPA Will Increase Carbon Monoxide Reduction Benefit in Reformulated Gasoline

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today commended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for recognizing the clean air benefits of ethanol fuel with changes to the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program - one that may also result in lower gasoline prices this summer.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman agreed to an increased carbon monoxide (CO) emissions reduction benefit for ethanol within the federal RFG program to 0.3 pounds per square inch.

"This is a victory for Illinois ethanol producers, farmers and all of our citizens who will benefit from cleaner air and less expensive gasoline," said Governor Ryan. "I'd like to thank Administrator Whitman, the Illinois Congressional delegation and IEPA Director Tom Skinner for their support and cooperation in this effort."

The decision will be published next week, and U.S. EPA will use enforcement discretion to make it effective immediately.

Beginning in January 1995, The Clean Air Act mandated the use of reformulated gasoline in the nations' nine worst ozone areas including the Chicagoland area. Phase II of the program began in 2000 requiring an additional 25 percent reduction of CO.

Allowing this additional volatility offset would reduce the cost for refiners to produce Phase II RFG and encourage the use of ethanol. It could also increase gasoline production volume that could ease the tight fuel supply and lower gasoline costs. Finally, the offset would also allow the nation to more easily phase­out the use of MTBE, protecting our nation's drinking water supplies, while still providing substantial improvement in air quality. MTBE is a oxygenating fuel additive that has contaminated drinking water supplies throughout the country.

"I applaud U.S. EPA for granting the carbon monoxide offset credit," said IEPA Director Tom Skinner. "I believe this acknowledges the benefits of the use of ethanol in improving the nations' air quality. " In July 2000, the U.S. EPA proposed a CO adjustment that would reduce the RFG summer volatile organic compounds (VOC) performance standard by 1 percent. The Illinois EPA submitted comments stating that the proposed adjustment substantially underestimates the benefits of carbon monoxide emission reductions on ozone formation. The comments also urged the U.S. EPA to conduct a thorough analysis of the CO emission reduction benefits using accepted air quality models. Today's decision is a compromise from the initial federal and state proposals.

"This bill would help in the State's efforts to protect our valuable water resources while at the same time maintaining the air quality benefits of the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program," said Governor Ryan.

"This bill will also help our farmers by adding to their marketability of corn," said Congressman Shimkus. "We keep telling farmers that Congress will help expand their markets…this is one way to really do it."


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