Decent Compromise on Ethanol

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 3, 1994 | Go to article overview

Decent Compromise on Ethanol


The Clinton administration has resolved a longstanding dispute over what type of gasoline additive should be used to help clean up the air in the nation's nine dirtiest cities. The Environmental Protection Agency decreed last month that cleaner-burning gasoline - the key to curbing auto exhausts - must contain at least 30 percent of its key additives from renewable resources. That almost certainly means ethanol, made from corn.

Adding oxygen to gasoline to make it burn cleaner can be accomplished by using either ethanol or a new distillation of petroleum. By turning to ethanol, the nation would reduce its reliance on imported oil, which is the largest contributor to the trade deficit. Expanded use of ethanol would create new jobs in rural areas and raise income for ethanol producers - money that would stay here.

Ethanol is now said to pose no serious environmental dangers, as studies had originally suggested. In the hot summer months, ethanol accelerates the evaporation of motor fuel. When the fumes interact with sunlight they create low-level ozone, which the Clean Air Act seeks to reduce. But a special oxidizer, also derived from ethanol, is now thought to solve this problem, making the fuel safe for use in summer as well as winter.

Using ethanol for as much as 30 percent of what is known as reformulated gasoline should increase the market for it by some 60 percent, raising production to 1. …

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