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Court Backs California in Ethanol Dispute

August 11, 2003

California Governor Gray Davis on Wednesday, August 7, urged the federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its requirement requiring ethanol or other oxygenate additives in the state's fuels, reports the Associated Press. A ruling last month by the San Francisco appeals court ordered the EPA to review its decision of two years ago, when the EPA denied the state's request to waive the requirement. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court after ruling the EPA abused its discretion in refusing to consider the effect of the waiver on particulate matter pollution, along with the effects on ozone levels. Also on August 7, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said new information from the state EPA suggests that using ethanol would increase smog in Southern California areas already experiencing an unusually severe smog season. Davis argued that state and private experts and the EPA's "Blue Ribbon Panel on Oxygenates in Gasoline" have concluded the additives are not needed in California's cleaner-burning gasoline. According to Feinstein, "The bottom line is that it is counter-productive to force California to use ethanol in its gasoline that it does not need and is potentially detrimental to its air quality". EPA spokeswoman Lisa Fasano said the appeals court ruling and the agency's next step still are under review.
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