NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Legislators Corn-Vinced Ethanol will Reduce Air Pollution

May 2, 2003

Legislators hope to expand the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive by making it part of a broader energy bill. The plan, passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would also phase out the controversial gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) over a four-year period and scrap government requirements that gasoline contain two percent oxygen to reduce air pollution.

  • The bill would require at least 5 billion gallons of ethanol be used as a gasoline additive by 2012, or about twice as much as the ethanol industry says it is currently producing.
  • In many areas, ethanol would replace MTBE, which helps reduce air pollution from automobile tailpipes, but also has been found to be a problem when it gets into lakes, streams and drinking water.
  • Another part of the package would lift the requirement that gasoline in many parts of the country contain a 2 percent oxygen content to reduce air pollution.

The ethanol provision, a boon to farmers, is part of a package of fuel proposals that won wide Senate support last year, only to have the energy legislation die in the final weeks of the congressional session.

Source: H. Josef Hebert, "Senate Panel Advances Ethanol Expansion," Associated Press, April 9, 2003.


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