Republican News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - “In our last hearing — at the end of April — we learned that lawmakers don’t make very good fuel chemists. We were the ones who passed the Clean Air Act of 1990 that required oxygenated fuels. We were the ones who ignored the warnings from those who know something about the business of making and delivering affordable and clean fuels to Americans,” said Senator Frank H. Murkowksi (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee this morning at a hearing on gasoline specifications and infrastructure. “Then, when their warnings came true, We accuse them of some sinister plot. Or launch investigations and blame the EPA for carrying out the law we directed them to execute.” Murkowski noted that the expert witnesses from the last hearing were asked how to add more flexibility into the fuel system. They responded by saying that flexibilities are enhanced when refiners are allowed to meet emission reduction goals in the form of performance standards rather than product specifications. “In other words they asked us to tell them what we want them to make and let them determine the best recipe,” Murkowski said. The witnesses from the April 26, 2001 hearing offered two potential solutions. First, keep the clean air standard in place and delete the oxygenate mandate. Second, keep the clean air standard in place and give states the ability to waive the oxygenate mandate. “In what may be a first for this Committee, there was near-unanimity that removing the oxygenate standard Congress imposed in the 1990 Clean Air Act would help greatly. There was also agreement that nothing we could do would help in the short run. We can’t fix a fuel system overnight that took 11 years to create. In fact, I am not convinced that the recommendation of our first hearing may not create additional problems with supply. And California may be the best example,” said Murkowski “Here is the problem: Oxygenates now make up at least 8% of California’s gasoline supply. By banning MTBE – as California decided to do 2 years ago – California will need at least 8% of something to replace it when the ban takes effect in 2002. Otherwise there will be a reduction of 8% in supplies of gasoline. Ethanol as an additive will help, but California wants, to be exempted form using ethanol as well. The same is true for the Northeast States. The fact is gasoline refinery capacity is not adequate to make up the shortfall in California if they do not use oxygenates (MTBE & ethanol) - and prices could spike as a result,” said Murkowski. “ I find it ironic that after six months of bashing the Bush Administration for ‘rolling back environmental laws,’ Democrats are now bashing the Bush Administration for not rolling back the requirements of the Clean Air Act,” said Murkowski. ###