California and New York ask for ethanol waiver

California and New York ask for waiver from buying American made fuel, ethanol Theres a war brewing over fuel and the dependence of oil. That war is right here in the United States and it’s between the Federal EPA and seven states, California, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

California Environmental Protection Agency and New York have requested a waiver to the Federal EPA from using reformulated gas (RFG), commonly known as ethanol or corn fuel.

This waiver is not about Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), that has already been banned in California. According to Jerry Martin, spokesperson for CARB, “We dont need ethanol in our gas. We can achieve the same goal without RFG mandate. By 2007 all vehicles in California will be required to meet tier 2 standard.”

Gabrielle Done, spokesperson for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) agrees with California, “Motor vehicles technology has continued to evolve so that vehicle fuel and engine management systems have superseded the need for fuel oxygenates.

A document dated December 12, 2003 from the NYDEC to the United States Environmental Protection Agency states, “the federal energy bill, in provisions passed by the both houses and carried in the conference report, eliminates oxygen mandate from the reformulated gasoline requirements contained in the Clean Air Act. New York State appreciates the recognition that is is time for this antiquated and unnecessary requirement to be removed from the Act, and looks forward to further Congressional action to eliminate the oxygenate requirement. As it is recongnized that the addition of oxygenate no longer provides benefit’s toward meeting the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS).”

Ethanol groups are incensed at the suggestion that ethanol would not be used when attainment for clean air has not been met in either state.

Gary Whitten, consultant for smogreyes, and scientist says that CARB is mistaken in their computer model involving tailpipes and evaporative emissions. “The model is faulty. Both CARB and CAEPA ignore carbon monoxide, which is a percursor to hydrocarbons, which create ozone problems. An increase of carbon monoxide out of a tailpipe means an increase in emissions. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers did a test and found that oxygenates were more effective.”

Neil Koehler, Director of California renewable fuels partnership, believes that the Federal EPA will reject the waiver, “The waiver has been rejected once and is only in play on a technacality. I believe oil companies will start buying ethanol factories.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), In the United States, approximately 6.6 tons (almost 15,000 pounds carbon equivalent) of greenhouse gases are emitted per person every year. And emissions per person have increased about 3.4% between 1990 and 1997. Most of these emissions, about 82%, are from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and power our cars.

What Are Greenhouse Gases? Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others result from human activities. Naturally occuring greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Certain human activities, howe’ver, add to the levels of most of these naturally occurring gases:

Carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood and wood products are burned. According to Charlie Terito, spokesperson for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, carbon dioxide is like cholestrol. There are good and bad cholestrols. Carbon Dioxide can be expelled from people. It cant be regulated from the tailpipe of a car.

Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from the decomposition of organic wastes in municipal solid waste landfills, and the raising of livestock.

Nitrous oxide (NOx) is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of solid waste and fossil fuels.

Very powerful greenhouse gases that are not naturally occurring include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), which are generated in a variety of industrial processes.

Each greenhouse gas differs in it’s ability to absorb heat in the atmosphere. HFCs and PFCs are the most heat-absorbent. Methane traps over 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide absorbs 270 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide. Often, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions are presented in unit’s of millions of metric tons of carbon equivalents (MMTCE), which weights each gas by it’s GWP value, or Global Warming Potential.

Tier 2 standard According to dieselnet.com and the EPA, the Tier 2 standards apply for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The program focuses on reducing emissions of ozone-forming gases, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane organic gases (NMOG), and particulate matter (PM) from these vehicles. The same set of federal standards, expressed in grams of pollutants emitted per mile (g/mi), applies to all passenger cars, light trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, regardless of the vehicle or engine size. Under this approach, which reflects the EPAs concern with increasing market share and emissions from minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUV), larger vehicles will have to employ cleaner engine and emission control technologies than those needed for vehicles with small engines. The same requirements will apply to all vehicles regardless of the fuel, i.e., gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles will be certified to the same emission standard.

The Tier 2 regulation will also reduce average gasoline sulfur levels in the U.S. These reductions could begin to phase in as early as 2000, with full compliance for most refiners occurring by 2006. The program requires that most refiners and importers meet a corporate average gasoline sulfur standard of 120 ppm and a cap of 300 ppm beginning in 2004. By 2006, the average standard will be reduced to 30 ppm with 80 ppm sulfur cap. Temporary, less stringent standards will apply to a few small refiners through 2007. In addition, temporary, less stringent standards will apply to a limited geographic area in the western U.S. for the 2004-2006 period.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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