This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 18, 2004

New Hampshire Slated to Earn Ethanol Exemption; California Wants In

Bucking a national trend, the State of New Hampshire has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive its requirement to use an oxygenate such as MTBE or ethanol in its gasoline. Oxygenates are added to gasoline blends as a means of reducing ozone emissions. On January 22nd, EPA proposed to approve the waiver for New Hampshire, allowing the state to stop using MTBE, which has been linked to groundwater contamination, without replacing it with ethanol. New Hampshire argued that it could meet air quality standards without using an oxygenate, and EPA agreed. In contrast, the nearby states of New York and Connecticut banned MTBE and switched to ethanol starting on January 1st of this year. The EPA's proposed waiver will be open to public comment for 30 days once it is published in the Federal Register. See the EPA press release.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was quick to respond, requesting on January 28th that California also be granted a waiver from the oxygenate requirement. California officially switched to ethanol on January 1st, but the state has been seeking a waiver for years. See Governor Schwarzenegger's press release, and for background on California's effort to gain an ethanol waiver, see the article from the July 23rd, 2003, edition of the EERE Network News.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), ethanol fuel production increased more than 32 percent in 2003, in part because of the new markets in California, New York, and Connecticut. Using data from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory, RFA estimates that the equivalent to about 5.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided in 2003 through the use of ethanol. See the RFA press releases from January 22nd and February 5th.