Rep. Cliff Stearns

House Committee on Energy & Commerce

A Discussion Draft Providing for a Reduction in the Number of Boutique Fuels

June 7, 2006

Mr. Chairman, thank you for once again focusing our attention on boutique fuels.

Government mandates for specially-formulated gasoline across the country have led to a proliferation of “boutique” fuel requirements -- each region or metro area demanding a different blend in order to meet certain air pollution goals under the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, particularly for ozone.

In the Energy Policy Act we passed into law last year, we gave EPA the authority to temporarily waive a control or prohibition for a fuel or fuel additive because of supply problems -- natural disasters, equipment failures, or general unforeseeable events. The legislation we are discussing today further outlines such waiver circumstances, providing more flexibility to the Department of Energy and EPA.

The Energy Policy Act also capped the number of boutique fuels. Today’s legislation would continue to constrict the number of such fuels, in order to give States as much flexibility as possible in meeting environmental goals, without unnecessarily driving up the costs of gas and limiting its supply.

Mr. Chairman, it is important that we continue to refine our environmental regulations. However, I also think it is appropriate to pause to appreciate the progress we have already made in environmental equality. For instance, the past three years have been the three lowest-ozone years on record, based on the 8-hour ozone standard. As a result of these three record-low ozone years, the national 8-hour ozone attainment rate skyrocketed from 57 percent of monitoring sites in 2003 up to 88 percent by the end of 2005. While 2005 was one of the hottest years on record, ozone levels remained at historic lows for the third year in a row. The result was an unprecedented increase in compliance with federal clean air standards.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today as to how we can best provide States and fuel providers the flexibility needed to build on such successes.

See the original: Serial No. 109-106

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