· Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing on the problems we may well be facing on the East Coast and in parts of the South later this spring and summer because of the rapid discontinuation of use of the additive MTBE in gasoline.
· Coming from a cold-weather state like Alaska, MTBE was certainly never popular. While it is easier to transport and cheaper to blend in gasoline than ethanol; in the extreme cold, MTBE fumes caused skin rashes. To say my Fairbanks constituents do not miss MTBE is an understatement.
· But reading the testimony before us this morning, East Coast, Northeast and Texas motorists may well miss MTBE greatly since the phase out of MTBE appears to be coming before the Ethanol industry, and the refinery industry, can be prepared to fully utilize ethanol in reformulated gasoline.
· The predictions of ethanol shortages to put into gasoline and regional fuel shortages resulting from the blending characteristics of ethanol itself paint a pretty unpleasant forecast. A cloudy forecast of rising prices in the Northeast, almost guarantees that Congress is going to be hearing thunderous complaints from motorists before summer’s end. Given what may be happening to fuel prices already because of the costs of producing ultra-clean diesel, the pressures of global demand increases and any supply disruptions that result, mean it is going to be raining down complaints on Congress for the price of gasoline and diesel this summer.
· I hope to hear more suggestions to mitigate fuel price problems during this hearing. The suggestion that we ask the Finance Committee to temporarily waive the import tariff on ethanol to allow foreign imports – probably from Brazil – to lessen the supply shortage was something. I hope the hearing will produce even more ideas from the witnesses.
· Greater reliance on ethanol will be good for our farmers and our energy security in the future, but it may raise a bumper crop of complaints this summer if we can’t relieve the additive shortages that the rapid phase out of MTBE is about to cause. I await the testimony, thank you.