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June 19, 2001
Watchdogs Praise California Ethanol Decision as Crucial Step to Cut Global Warming Emissions
Renewable Ethanol Could Slash 529,000 Tons of Carbon Emissions Per Year in California
The Renewable Action Project (RAP), a coalition of environmental groups and renewable ethanol producers, today hailed the decision to maintain the oxygen standard as critical to the fight against global warming. Based on an analysis of greenhouse gases from transportation fuels by the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory, RAP estimates that the use of ethanol in California's gasoline can reduce annual statewide carbon emissions by over 529,540 tons -- an extremely significant 35 percent.
``There are only two ways to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles -- better mileage standards and the use of renewable fuel as a replacement to gasoline. We need to do both,'' said Rhys Roth, of Climate Solutions, one of the Project's founders.
The group maintains that even without the global warming benefits of ethanol, fuels with ethanol are cleaner than the other alternatives to MTBE. That fact, the group says, should put the focus on to the other benefits of renewable fuels. ``Why increase our use of fossil fuels when we can produce a sustainable, renewable fuel right here in California that creates jobs, improves air quality and curbs global warming emissions?'' says Elisa Lynch of Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-based national environmental organization leading the fight to protect the Clean Air Act.
``Every gallon of ethanol that replaces gasoline reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent. We can do even better when the technology for converting cellulose into ethanol matures and develops,'' added Lynch. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from feedstocks such as rice straw, orchard trimmings and even beverages like beer.
RAP believes that CO2 should be included as an air quality criterion pollutant. The group says that state and federal officials, and critics of EPA's denial of a waiver, have grossly overlooked the CO2 impacts of this decision. ``We need to look at the big picture,'' said Carol Werner of the Environmental Study Institute (EESI) of Washington, DC. ``Climate change is both an air quality issue and the ultimate sustainability issue. We are missing the boat if policy decisions overlook the CO2 ramifications.''
RAP estimates that if all federal reformulated gasoline areas nationwide utilized renewable ethanol as an oxygenate, over 3.1 million tons of carbon could be removed from the atmosphere each year. ``Biomass streams are available throughout the nation,'' added Werner, ``and 3.1 million tons could go a long way towards fulfilling our obligation to curb CO2 emissions.''
RAP is a newly formed national coalition of environmental groups, agricultural interest, local governments and renewable fuels producers. It was founded in collaboration with Bluewater Network, Climate Solutions, and the Energy and Environmental Study Institute (EESI) -- three environmental leaders in the fields of renewable fuels and global change.
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