On the day when world crude oil prices hit their highest level in 10 years, consumers will benefit from the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee's passage of legislation establishing a Clean Alternative Fuels Program, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said. NCGA also praised the committee for its ban of MTBE, which has been a major source of groundwater pollution.

"The Committee's creation of a Clean Alternative Fuels Program will help free consumers--and our national security--from being held hostage by OPEC oil states," said Lynn Jensen, NCGA president and a farmer from Lake Preston, SD. "It would reduce U.S. demand for foreign oil by the same amount that we import from Iraq every day. Indeed, the more our nation switches from foreign-made fossil fuels to U.S.-made renewable fuels like ethanol, the lower prices will be, the more jobs Americans will have, the stronger our economy will be, the cleaner our environment will be and the greater our security will be."

"The Committee also took an important step forward in protecting the water we drink by voting to ban MTBE in four years," Jensen commented. "This should encourage oil refiners and gasoline blenders to switch to clean-burning ethanol--the alternative fuel best suited to improving our air quality and keeping our drinking water safe."

NCGA praised the work of Sens. George Voinovich (R-OH), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Max Baucus (R-MT) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) for their leadership in strengthening S 2962, which was reported out of the Environment and Public Works Committee today. These senators' efforts will result in a tripling of the ethanol market in 10 years, resulting in 1.75 bushels of corn demand.

At the same time, NCGA expressed concern that the bill does not have stronger environmental "anti-backsliding" provisions. "The bottom line here must be results--cleaner, healthier air for all Americans," Jensen said. "The increased flexibility provided by this legislation must be accompanied by full accountability. The clean air standards achieved by oxygenates should be restored in any subsequent action on S 2962.

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