Clean air is a common goal that we strive to reach and well know it can be a challenge in many locations. My home state of Missouri is no exception. We have two major municipalities who continually monitor to ensure that they stay within “attainment” levels of ozone and other air pollutants. We have made great strides in helping these cities and cities all across the Nation clean up their air. The use of oxygenates in reformulated gasoline, as part of mandated or voluntary clean air plans, has been a great tool in these efforts. Unfortunately for clean water concerns, one of the two most widely used oxygenates, MTBE a known carcinogen, has been found in drinking water supplies.
Of course, clean air concerns are not restricted to the city limits of major municipalities. Missourians in smaller cities and in rural areas are concerned about the air that they breathe, and they obviously do not want clean air to come at the detriment of their clean water. I believe a big part of the answer for across the board clean air in both metro and rural areas lies with increased usage of cleaner burning renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel.
Ethanol is a preferred motor fuel because of its proven ability to reduce harmful vehicle emissions, thereby protecting the environment and public health. Ethanol contains 35% oxygen by weight. By increasing the amount of oxygen in fuel, ethanol enhances engine combustion and reduces harmful tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM-10), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other ozone-forming pollutants. Ethanol also displaces gasoline additives like benzene, a known human carcinogen, and aromatics that are highly toxic.
Gasoline engine emissions are not the only source of air pollutants. Diesel engines definitely contribute their share, but fixing this source of pollutants has proven challenging. By utilizing biodiesel and biodiesel blends there is opportunity to reduce diesel engine emissions, in both light duty and heavy-duty applications. This can be accomplished without sacrificing engine performance or forcing high costs of operation on truckers, mass transit systems, or other businesses. The use of biodiesel or biodiesel blends in conventional diesel engines results in a substantial reduction of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and sulfates compared to emissions from diesel fuel. Also, in its pure form, soy biodiesel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel according to a joint DOE/USDA study.
The opportunity for enhancing our clean air efforts lies before us if we incorporate more renewable fuels, made from homegrown crops, into our fuel supplies. Ethanol and biodiesel, both have a proven track record of reducing air pollutants. Ethanol excels at improving gasoline engine emissions for most of the pollutants that we seek to decrease. Biodiesel, a proven fuel for light and heavy-duty diesel vehicles, is highly effective at reducing many of the pollutants that we target -- especially particulates and sulfates. I encourage this subcommittee and the Congress to phase out MTBE, repeal the Clean Air Act's 2% oxygenate requirement and replace these clean air tools with a Reformulated Fuels Standard of 5 billion gallons or more.