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RMFU applauds decision to keep clean air standards

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) applauds the decision yesterday by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to maintain the Colorado Clean Air regulation requiring that a minimum of 10 percent of automobile gasoline be from oxygenated fuel.

The requirement came under fire from the oil and gas industry and some state officials, who maintain that the regulation is unnecessary since rising oil prices have made ethanol cheaper than fossil fuels. Nonetheless, action taken yesterday by the commission will leave the 10 percent requirement in the regulation.

“Use of ethanol is a good part of the reason Colorado has managed to comply with federal air pollution standards, despite doubling its population over the past two decades,” said John Stencel, RMFU president, who testified yesterday before the commission. “Rather than attempting to repeal the requirement under the guise that it is not necessary, we should be increasing it to further improve air quality.”

Stencel and other agricultural representatives, including the Colorado Corn Growers, acknowledged favorable pricing of ethanol due to the current high cost of petroleum fuel but said that the ethanol industry needs some assurance of stability if it is to make the commitment to expand production of ethanol in the years to come. “Denver and Longmont air is still dirty,” said Stencel. “People with asthma find they have trouble working in downtown Denver. While we are improving air quality, why not take it to the next level and really clean it up?”

Stencel also noted the economic benefits of grain-based ethanol to producers and as a value-added industry for rural Colorado. According to the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1,991 Colorado farmers grow corn for grain. Currently underway is research on producing ethanol from other grains, such as switchgrass, wheat, milo and other sorghums.
“Requiring the addition of ethanol into automobile gasoline helps Colorado agricultural producers” Stencel told commissioners, “Having fostered an ethanol industry that benefits rural and other parts of the economy, we ought not harm it in order not to ‘burden’ the oil and gas industry.”

Stencel also noted that increasing ethanol use encourages energy independence: “We believe America’s energy future is tied to the increased use of alternative fuels, such as ethanol, particularly where we can raise this renewable fuel at home.”

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