The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its 30,000 farmer members applaud Sens. Tom Daschle, D-SD, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, for their efforts to address the environmental and health risks posed by methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and to promote the use of domestically produced, renewable fuels such as ethanol.

However, NCGA is concerned about their proposal to waive the Clean Air Act's oxygen content requirement for federal reformulated gasoline (RFG).

Instead, the nation's corn growers prefer the approach taken in HR 4011, the Clean Air and Water Preservation Act of 2000. This bill, and a companion measure expected to be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, would ban MTBE, but maintain the oxygenate requirement and give refiners additional flexibility in producing RFG. NCGA believes this is the best option for farmers and the environment.

"The use of oxygen in RFG is responsible for major air quality improvements in many of the nation's most polluted cities. Ethanol, made from corn and other renewable sources, provides these clean air benefits without the water pollution problems posed by petroleum-based MTBE. Given the ready availability of ethanol as an alternative to MTBE, we see no reason to abandon the oxygenate requirement," says Bruce Knight, NCBA vice president of public policy.

"While we support the senators' vision of a national renewable fuel standard for all gasoline, we question its political feasibility, at this point in time. Thus, without assurances that such a standard will be enacted, we are hesitant to abandon the oxygenate requirement--a proven successful approach that is on the books," Knight says.

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