NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State Environmental Officials Want Repeal Of Gasoline Additive Rule

May 24, 2001

In the 1990 Clean Air Act, Congress mandated that gasoline sold in some states be "reformulated" to reduce pollution. The process entails including additives to gas -- MTBE or ethanol.

But experts -- including environmental experts -- say that neither additive is needed to meet clean-air goals. They are urging that the mandate be repealed.

  • California is asking the government for a waiver, saying it can make cleaner and cheaper gas without additives.
  • A group of eight Northeastern states has urged repeal of the additive rule on the grounds that keeping it would undermine a reliable supply of low-cost gasoline.
  • The head of the Environmental Protection Agency's panel on gasoline additives warned in March that keeping the mandate "risks potential market dislocations and increases in price."

In addition to being unnecessary, disruptive to gas supplies and costly to motorists, the additive rule costs taxpayers money. The ethanol subsidy alone will run to $500 million in 2002 -- rising to $600 million in 2003.

But the ethanol subsidy is the darling of such agribusiness giants as Archer Daniels Midland -- which is lavish in its campaign contributions to both political parties.

That may help explain why the Bush administration is refusing to back repeal of the additive mandate, critics charge.

Source: Editorial, "How You Pay at the Pump to Protect Corn Growers," USA Today, May 24, 2001.


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