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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

August 7, 2003

Gov. Davis asks U.S. EPA to reverse ethanol stance after court ruling

SACRAMENTO (AP) - Gov. Gray Davis today urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reverse its requirement that California add ethanol or other pollution-reducing products to its gasoline, citing a court ruling last month.

The San Francisco appeals court ordered the EPA to review its decision of two years ago, when the EPA denied the state's request to waive rules that would lead to ethanol being added to most of the state's gasoline.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court after ruling the EPA abused its discretion in refusing to consider the effect of the waiver on particulate matter pollution, along with the effects on ozone levels.

``California doesn't take a back seat to anyone in our requirements that gas burn cleanly,'' Davis said Wednesday in releasing a letter to acting EPA administrator Marianne Lamont Horinko.

``We pioneered the fight against smog. The federal government should know there's simply no reason to add extra chemicals to gasoline when they don't make the gas burn cleaner.''

EPA spokeswoman Lisa Fasano said the appeals court ruling and the agency's next step still are under review.

Davis argued that state and private experts and the EPA's Blue Ribbon Panel on Oxygenates in Gasoline have concluded the additives are not needed in California's cleaner-burning gasoline.

The oxygenates most commonly used in gas are methanol-based MTBE and ethanol, but Davis ordered the use of MTBE banned by this year because of concerns it was contaminating groundwater. Davis extended the MTBE phase-out deadline to Dec. 31, 2003, after the EPA turned down the state's waiver request, and state officials on Wednesday said oil companies are on track to complete the conversion without problems by year's end.

The state sued in 2001 to reverse the EPA's decision requiring the state to use what the Davis administration considers an expensive and polluting gasoline additive. The case is Davis v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 01-71356.

Frank Maisano, spokesman for the pro-MTBE Oxygenated Fuels Association, said the appeals court decision was so narrow that EPA could still require the state to convert to ethanol, and so late the state won't have time to switch away from that requirement by year's end.

Davis argued Wednesday that California refiners should have the flexibility to meet the state's strict pollution standards without subjecting motorists to potential problems with ethanol availability and resulting higher prices.



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