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NEWS OF THE WEEK
ENERGY
March 18, 2002
Volume 80, Number 11
CENEAR 80 11 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347
[Previous Story] [Next Story]

Fuel Economy Standards Out, Ethanol In

DAVID HANSON

The Senate last week killed one of the most controversial sections of energy legislation it is now considering, voting 62 to 38 to remove tough automobile fuel economy standards from the bill, S. 517. But senators and the Administration did agree on provisions that will increase use of ethanol, phase out use of the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and do away with EPA requirements for oxygenated fuel.

In deleting the increase in corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, requirements for cars, the Senate killed the most significant energy conservation provision in the bill. The provision would have raised average car gasoline mileage from the present 24 mpg to 35 mpg by 2015.

The renewable fuels agreement would require that 10% of fuels be produced from renewable resources, most notably ethanol. This is expected to triple the amount of ethanol used in fuel.

The use of MTBE as an oxygenate to reduce pollution from burning gasoline would be phased out over four years, and the requirement that gasoline contain 2% oxygen by weight would be eliminated. Overall, the provisions are a balance of measures that were supported by associations from all sides of the energy debate, including the American Petroleum Institute.

"The agreement makes a number of important changes in federal law, based on the experience we have gained over the past several years on implementing the reformulated gasoline program," said Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-N.D.), who wrote the Senate energy bill.

Debate begins soon on the other controversial energy issues, including drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republicans are expected to offer an amendment allowing such drilling. Democrats have promised a filibuster.

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