Release 98-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              CONTACT:            Allan Hirsch
April 23, 1998                                                                                                      (916) 322-2990
                                                                                                                             www.arb.ca.gov

Dunlap Testifies at Congressional Hearing on H.R. 630

Bilbray Legislation Would Provide Options for Refiners by
Exempting California from Federal Oxygenate Fuel Rule

        SACRAMENTO - California Air Resources Board Chairman John D. Dunlap on Wednesday, April 22 testified before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in support of H.R. 630 (Bilbray - San Diego). H.R. 630 as written would enhance California's efforts to achieve air quality benefits through its reformulated gasoline program.

        A summary of Dunlap's testimony is outlined below. To read the full text submitted for the hearing record, please contact the Office of Communications at: (916) 322-2990.

        OUTLINE OF CHAIRMAN DUNLAP'S TESTIMONY ON APRIL 22, 1998, BEFORE THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT:

        "Thank you, Chairman Bilirakis and members of the subcommittee, for holding today's hearing on H.R. 630 introduced by Representative Brian Bilbray, that if enacted, would enhance California's efforts to achieve air quality benefits through our reformulated gasoline program. On behalf of Governor Pete Wilson and Cal/EPA Secretary Peter M. Rooney, I appreciate the opportunity to provide California's thoughts on the carefully crafted measure before you today."

-        California faces our nation's greatest air-quality challenges. Seven of the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest smog levels in the United States are in California.

-        California has done more than any other state to reduce air pollution, including the introduction of cleaner-burning gasoline in the Spring of 1996.

-        The success of California's cleaner-burning gasoline has been overshadowed by public concern over the use of MTBE -- the oxygenate of choice in California.

-        The federal oxygen rule severely limits the flexibility in California's "performance based" cleaner-burning gasoline program, giving refiners no viable alternative to the nearly-universal use of MTBE in California gasoline. This has led many Californians to wrongly perceive that cleaner-burning gasoline represents a tradeoff between clean air and clean water. H.R. 630 will change that.

-        H.R. 630 provides refiners a content-neutral accountable performance standard for achieving air-quality benefits. By exempting California from the federal oxygen rule, H.R. 630 would give refiners the option of reducing the MTBE content of their gas throughout California. H.R. 630 would give refiners more options for using other oxygenates, such as ethanol. I also believe H.R. 630 would ease some of the public concern over MTBE, because the public would see MTBE use evolve to a level that blaances its benefits as a clean-fuels additive with the potential liability of removing it from water.

-        H.R. 630 requires gasoline to meet the world's cleanest standards. Refiners can take full advantage of the flexible fuel standards that have reduced air pollution in California.

        "In closing, we should take chances for the environment -- not with the environment. On at least three occasions, the Congress and this administration have embraced well-understood improvements to the Clean Air Act that have contributed to attaining air quality benefits. H.R. 630 presents another bipartisan opportunity for the Congress and the administration to seize upon a throughly focused proposal to better achieve our federal Clean Air Act goals in California."

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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