THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY EPA ADMINISTRATOR CAROL BROWNER, DOE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR RENEWABLE & ENERGY EFFICIENCY DAN REICHER, USDA DEPUTY CHIEF ECONOMIST JOSEPH GLAUBER, AND DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, ROGER BALLENTINE The Briefing Room
12:15 P.M. EDT
MR. TOIV: Good afternoon, everybody. Have my briefers followed me? Well, they're coming. As you know, the President today is going to sign an executive order to encourage the development of alternative and cleaner fuels. And here to brief you on that subject today are Carol Browner, who is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Dan Reicher, who is Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and renewable energy; Roger Ballentine, who is Deputy Assistant to the President for Environmental Initiatives and the coordinator for the climate change issue for the President and for the administration; and Joe Glauber, who is the Deputy Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us at this briefing on the Clinton-Gore administration's executive order that moves us down the path towards the increased use of biomass. This coordinated biomass strategy will create cleaner fuels, environmentally friendlier products, and new markets for American farmers and new technologies and opportunities for both small and large entrepreneurs. It will also decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
Once again, this administration is demonstrating that a growing economy and a healthy environment can and do go hand in hand. Let's start simply: What is biomass? I think as its name implies, it's organic. It's trees. It's crops. It's agriculture. It's forestry waste that can all be used to fuel a car, heat a home, power industry, replace traditional chemicals.
These materials can also be used to create new kinds of products: Inks, paints, packing materials, that will decay when they are disposed of rather than pollute the earth for centuries to come. Quite simply, biomass is to the next century what petroleum was to this century. It is the next generation of fuels and chemicals.
With today's presidential executive order, this administration is laying the foundation to next generation of fuels and chemicals.
With today's presidential executive order, this administration is laying the foundation to triple the use of these kinds of products -- replacing oil, coal, other fossil fuels with what has previously been viewed as waste. This announcement is also a recognition of Vice President Gore's vision of finding common-sense solutions to our environmental challenges -- recognizing that what was once viewed as waste, garbage, something to be thrown away, something to be put in the landfill, can in fact be turned into commercially viable products and fuels.
By moving towards fuels produced by renewable and cleaner-burning biomass, we are recognizing that not all of our energy needs lie under the earth in wells and in mines. We are recognizing that our farmlands, our forests, can produce supertankers' worth of cleaner-burning fuels that will help stem the release of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Consider this: By the year 2020, it is estimated that the ethanol produced from biomass -- and this is not the ethanol that we produce today from the kernels of corn, but rather ethanol that will be produced from the entire corn plant, other types of plants -- this biomass, this ethanol produced from biomass, could replace 348 million barrels of imported oil. That means American farmers will have produced the equivalent of 158 foreign supertankers of energy.
And these new energy industries will also provide thousands of new jobs, generate $15 million to $20 million in new income for America's farmers, and give us cost-effective and renewable alternatives to the finite supply of fossil fuels.
This administration, under the President, the Vice President's leadership, has shown time and time again that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are goals in concert, and with today's announcement, this administration lays the foundation for both the economy and the environment to work together, to flourish together in the century to come.
It is now my pleasure to introduce to you Dan Reicher, the Assistant Secretary from the Department of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewables.
Q With all this work? Do these things work?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Yes, absolutely. They're already working in some instances. Why don't we let Dan make a brief comment, and then we're happy to answer any questions.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: Good afternoon. Today, in signing the bio-based products and bio-energy executive order, President Clinton leads the nation towards a cleaner and truly greener future. Bio-energy from agricultural and forest products and waste already meets about 3 percent of U.S. energy requirements, and the use of biomass for electric power, for fuels, has been increasing by 2 percent annually since 1990.
However, this growth is far too slow to meet our ever-increasing concerns about air quality and climate change, our growing dependence on foreign energy supplies, and the weakening economic conditions in the nation's farms and forestry sectors. Through a strong industry-government partnership, greatly fostered by today's executive order, we'll accelerate the uses of waste agricultural products like corn stalks or rice straw or sugar cane byproducts or a whole host of other waste to make clean-burning ethanol for our cars.
We will increase the use of wood waste from the forest products industry and dedicated energy crops like switch grass to make electricity. And biomass will increasingly replace petroleum feed stocks the chemical industry now uses to make plastics, inks, fibers and other materials.
I've visited plants that are under consideration, some under development in various states across the country. One that's being looked at in Louisiana for example, would take waste from the sugar cane industry that that industry now has to pay to get rid of and would convert it into ethanol. There are plants being considered in California that would convert it into ethanol. There are plants being considered in California that would take waste from the rice industry -- that traditionally were burned in the field, but now can no longer be burned -- and that waste would be turned into ethanol. I visited a plant that is now operating on a pilot scale in Vermont that turns wood waste into a gas, like natural gas, that can fire a turbine and make electricity.
We also have plants springing up across the United States that can take these biological materials and make chemicals out of them, instead of starting with the petroleum feed stocks that we usually use. They can make all sorts of chemicals that we use to make fibers for our clothes, to make plastics, to make adhesives, inks and other kinds of products.
But the truth is that the bio-energy industry today is small and segmented, with little integration across the fuels, power and chemical products industries. This lack of integration has been a major barrier to industry growth. By better integrating technologies, markets and supporting policies, the innovative products that I just talked about will be developed.
At the Department of Energy under Secretary Richardson, we believe that a more focused, visible and integrated national effort can make the U.S. the world leader in production of bio-based energy and other products. The heart of our bio-energy initiative is the notion of strong industry-government partnerships to combine a vision for an integrated bioenergy industry and provide much stronger support for technology, policy and market development.
The long-term technical and economic objective is to make a ton of biomass a viable market competitor to a barrel of imported oil. That ton of biomass will be processed in a bio-refinery, that can quickly and easily vary its feed stocks and its product mix according to market signals -- much as petroleum refineries do today with oil.
In the next century, bio-refineries will crack renewable carbon just like we do fossil carbon today. Today, 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol, 7,000 megawatts of power, and a variety of chemical products, formerly made from petroleum, are produced from biomass. The President's goal is to triple bioenergy use by 2010. This is an aggressive but realistic goal that today's executive order will help us achieve for the benefit of our economy, our environment, and indeed our national security. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Now, Helen, why don't we start with you.
Q I just wondered -- I think he answered the question, basically. Thanks. We just wonder, is this pretty far-fetched? I mean, the way --
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: No, not at all. In fact, it is technologies that are already emerging and in some places are in use. I'll give you a simple example. About a quarter of what goes into our landfills today are petroleum-based products. For example, plastic forks, lots of plastic products, styrene cups - it is now possible, and there are already manufacturers that are producing -- for example, a plastic fork, out of biodegradable, biomass. They're taking a waste essentially and turning it into that plastic fork. So when it goes into the landfill, it absolutely biodegrades.
So not only are you solving a landfill problem, but you're also solving a waste product. You're taking something that would have otherwise have to have been thrown away, and you're making it into the product that the consumer can use. And these things are beginning to happen. The other -- the one that most people know about today, beyond sort of the fuel issues and the chemical issues, but in terms of just household are the little packing peanuts that you get every time you order something through the mail you get a box filled with these packing peanuts -- well, those historically have been a petroleum-based product, but today you have companies that are making them out of waste products. And not only is that good for the environment, but then when you throw away those little packing peanuts, they actually biodegrade. They don't simply fill up space in your local landfill.
Q Do you need to still import or use the same amount of oil because part of that petroleum product you need for other chemicals that you can't use for these new products?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Well, no. What we're starting to see is traditional products that have been made essentially from a petroleum base can be made from a biomass base. So it actually does replace our dependency on traditional fossil fuels. For example, adhesives, you now have technologies emerging that would allow adhesives to be made from biomass as opposed to petroleum-based. You have plastics, you have paints, you have inks. So it's really -- there are sort of three areas where this works. One is in fuels -- so, for example, not simply taking the corn kernel and making ethanol to drive our cars, but taking the entire plant, the entire corn plant, taking other plants and turning that biomass, that which would have been thrown away, into ethanol, which can be used to fuel our cars.
Secondly, you have these products, you have the fact that there are these things which have traditionally been made from a petroleum base, but today, we're learning, we're developing the technologies -- that's what this executive order is all about -- that will allow those products to be made from non-petroleum-based biowastes or biomass.
And then the final category is all of environmental benefits that come from the fact that these things that do not, one, depend on petroleum, and that's everything from reductions in greenhouses gases to other air pollution benefits, to simply better managing our waste streams, sort of making gold, if you will, out of what has historically been viewed as waste.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: If I could just add, the other category that's very exciting here is making electricity -- liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity. And what we now have the capability to do is to make electricity from biomass in a variety of ways. A simple way is to mix coal with biomass, burn them together.
Down the road, what we're going to see is, for example, in the forest products industry, they have to deal with a byproduct called "black liquor," and that's typically dealt with in a traditional way that has a host of challenges associated with it Where the forest products industry wants to go is to gassify this black liquor waste, turn it into a gas somewhat equivalent to natural gas, fire a turbine with it, make electricity, and with substantial penetration of this technology, that industry could actually not only be self-powering, it could actually sell excess power to the electricity grid. And so you see the forest products industry transitioning in this direction as well.
Q If the President's goal tripling the use of bioenergy is achieved by the year 2010, can you put that in some context for us in terms of what that would mean for our reliance on foreign oil?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: The numbers that I gave you in terms of, for example, the 158 foreign supertankers, those are based on a tripling of the market for biomass. The other number is approximately for the greenhouse gases. When you look to the biomass, you achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions -- equivalent when you triple the market equivalent to taking -- what is it, 80 --
MR. BALLENTINE: One hundred million tons.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: One hundred million tons, which is equivalent to 83 million --
MR. BALLENTINE: Seventy million.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: -- cars off the road.
Q With a lot of auto makers looking at fuel cell technology, particularly mass marketing fuel cells within the next 10 years, are you also looking at bio-fuels as a hydrogen source for fuel cells, or are you just looking at -- still internal combustion?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: Ethanol -- that's a very good question. Ethanol is one of the possible sources of hydrogen for a fuel cell. It's a rather simple molecule that you can extract the hydrogen from, so essentially what you would do in a hydrogen or a fuel-cell automobile is fill up the tank with ethanol -- there would be a little chemical reformer on board that would pull the hydrogen out -- push it into the fuel cell, and you'd make electricity to power the car. We might also use natural gas -- methanol. As you know, there's quite a variety of possible fuel sources for these vehicles. But ethanol is a good one.
Q Oil prices at the moment are at about a 30-year low. What kind of challenges does that produce for this kind of an effort in terms of competitive costs? And what kinds of incentives do the government have to offer? Won't those incentives have to be greater, given how cheap oil is at the moment?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: I just wanted to say that oil obviously is at quite a low right now. What we need to do in the case of biomass is to decrease the cost of producing energy from biomass. To do that, we need to do a lot of work in the area of the feed-stock itself; how we grow it, how we gather it, to bring the cost down there. We need to do work in how we convert it into any number of products. And we need to, I think, support that through research and development, through tax incentives. But overall, I think there is a real robust potential for biomass with this kind of progress.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: I might also just point out -- when you develop these technologies -- when you develop the kinds of technologies that can take the biomass and turn it into a chemical product, a fuel, turn it into electricity, once we develop these technologies, we become a competitor in the worldwide market. I mean, you can't simply see this as U.S. technologies.
I think you also have to recognize -- and the Vice President has really been at the forefront of the environmental technology advancements in this country, working with those industries to help create not just the domestic markets, but also the international markets -- it's a many, many-hundred billion dollar market, and it's something that the United States has to continue, and should continue, to compete in. And as we make investments in solving these kind of domestic problems, it allows us to better compete in this environmental technology, this worldwide environmental technology market.
MR. BALLENTINE: Well, let me just add to that, because what Carol said is exactly what --
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: You have to come to the mike.
MR. BALLENTINE: -- what Carol said is exactly what the President and the Vice President have been saying, in the context of fighting climate change. And, in fact, the President's Council of Scientific Advisors issued a report quite recently, which looked at the potential of U.S. business to export energy-efficient and renewable-energy technology to developing countries in a two-fold manner: one, do it because it's going to help us fight global warming by reducing carbon emissions in those countries; but at the same time, it presents tremendous business opportunities, as Carol suggested, for domestic U.S. companies. So this really is a win-win situation.
Q -- the timing of this announcement? I mean, did everything suddenly come together, all, now?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: It's a combination of things have come to pass. One is, within sort of the upstart technology firms, they've been really looking at this. They've sort of reached a point where they think this is viable. What the executive order does is bring together all of us within the federal family who has a part to play in advancing that technology.
Secondly, there was a report -- was it the National Academy -- National Research Council was asked -- which is a branch of the National Academy of Sciences -- was asked to actually look at whether or not these are viable technologies, whether or not there is an opportunity. And the long and the short of it is, they've said yes, that there's a tremendous opportunity. And the executive order, I think, is really in large part a response to that.
It will take a lot of different federal agencies and departments working together to make sure that we are taking advantage of all the opportunities. And that's what the executive order does.
Q Is there a specific dollar commitment, either formally or informally, to this initiative? You know, I know that there's a Senate bill that would -- you know, would earmark about $45 billion a year. And secondly, you've repeatedly referred to imported oil. At present, a lot of imported oil is used for automobile fuel. Could you break out by sector what sort of increases you would get in this initiative if you tripled -- I mean, at the moment, you tell us most of the biomass is used in power plants -- which hardly are users of imported petroleum. I'm curious how much gain you really might make on --
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Well, we do think -- there are three opportunities, as I think all of us have said. One is fuels, and increasing the percentage of the fuels we use in our cars that come from non-petroleum sources. We've already had the success in this country of ethanol. This would go far, far beyond ethanol. Second is replacing the petroleum that is used in any number of consumer and industrial products with non-petroleum. And then the third is the electricity generation.
I don't think, at this time, we can break out which of those markets would see the greatest amount of growth. I think in part, that will be driven by how the technologies emerge, and our ability to see those technologies commercialized and really upscaled. But the opportunity -- and there are already advances in each of these areas. It's not as if one of these hasn't happened yet; something is happening in each of these areas.
And so, what the executive order does is bring us all together to really sort of leapfrog and push that along much, much more quickly than it would probably otherwise occur.
Q -- commitments -- the fuel piece.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: Part of the opportunity and part of the push has come from industry, itself. There are a variety of industries out there in the fuels area, in the power area, and in the chemicals area who want to work with the government and want to work with each other; they traditionally have not worked with each other. Much of what they do is based on biomass and it's sort of the common resource. And to the extent we can bring those industries together, to the extent we can coordinate better with them and coordinate better across our agencies, we can really accelerate this whole thing.
In terms of the current 3 percent of energy that we get from biomass today, the largest portion of that is in the wood area, the forest products industry, powering itself, wood for heating. There is also wood that's used for producing electricity. There are really scores of small electricity-producing power plants in this country that use wood. And then the next largest proportion is in the ethanol area, where we make fuels from corn. But that's also a great growth area as well, particularly as we learn more and more about how to make ethanol from things other than the corn kernel.
The budget -- there is on the order of about $200 million plus that is -- we'll have to get the specific number, but it's in excess of $200 million spent today across the various agencies on biomass for power fuels and chemicals. The Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, other agencies, including EPA, make up that spending.
We've asked for fairly significant increases in the budgets for support of these biomass technologies in Fiscal Year 2000. There is also a package of tax incentives that were sent up to the Hill, and have been introduced, that would promote the use of bio-energy. And we're pushing hard to see those adopted as well.
Q Do you expect there would have to be large increases in order to attain the President's goals by 2010 in the budgets?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: Yes, we do think there need to be increases. The President's Council of Advisors of Science and Technology indicated the importance of increasing budgets to move this technology forward, to move these markets forward. So we have made those requests.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: But it may also be that it is adjustments, shifts in current allocations of resources as opposed to new resources. One of the things that we've done at EPA over the years is where we see emerging technologies we can come into support them and really sort of push them along a little bit more quickly than they might otherwise move. And so what we would probably be looking at is shifting some resources to helping these firms actually bring these technologies to the forefront.
Q How do we compare with other countries in the use of biomass technology?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: We're ahead of people in terms of ethanol for fuel. I think in terms of wood, we probably --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: I don't know the complete comparisons. Some of the Scandinavian countries get more of their overall energy from biomass. Obviously, in traditional -- in rural areas, including our own in the last century, much of the power came from biomass -- wood, other kinds of waste. In fact, one of the very interesting opportunities in terms of U.S. markets abroad is in developing countries, village-based power systems where the villages today often don't have electricity, don't have adequate energy, and one of the technologies that we're pursuing are very modular scale ways to produce electricity and fuels for these villages in areas of the country where they have a great deal of biomass that isn't being used otherwise.
MR. BALLENTINE: If I can just add one thing back on the dollar figure. The President's FY2000 budget has $242 million total -- request for appropriations and tax credits in the area of renewable energy, biomass proposals. But understand -- what the President's goal here, and what he understands, is that private industry is going to lead the way on this. And what we're looking at and what he asks his Council that he creates to do in this Executive Order, is to look at this market, look at the government, look at what we are currently doing across these -- as of now, inadequately, integrated programs across the government, and look how can we find ways and how can we as a government better help the private sector in developing this industry.
In some cases, it may be just regulatory changes that will help, and there's not a dollar figure there. In some cases, I think his -- the recommendation back to him from the Council will be for additional appropriations for R&D and pilot projects and so forth. But primarily, the private sector is going to drive this. We can't really predict in the long run what it's going to cost, but certainly it's not something the government is going to have to foot the entire bill for to make this happen.
Q How do the oil companies feel about it?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Oh, they're very, very supportive of it. They see, I think, opportunities. Many of them are involved in things other than the way we tend to think about it -- sort of dappling in your car -- many of them are involved in a very large-scale way in chemical products. And so they are actually some of the people that we would be working with and I think they see opportunities.
In many instances, this could be very, very cost effective. I mean, when they look at -- over a long period of time, the cost of our dependence on foreign fuels, versus garbage, if you will; waste, that is sort of domestically, locally generated, it can come with a tremendous advantage. This is really, I think, one of the things that this administration, and particularly under the Vice President's leadership has been so good about which is finding sort of not just the win, but the win, win, win.
I mean, what you have here is stuff we've been throwing away. We've been putting it in our landfills. It's causing environmental problems for us, and what we're now seeing is an opportunity to prevent that problem -- to use it and to use it in a way that is good for the consumer, that can bring down cost of fuels and energy, and do it in a way that doesn't create its own set of environmental problems.
Q Wouldn't this be detrimental for the farmers in the Midwest?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: It's great for the farmers. In fact, the Vice President is in Iowa today talking about this because it's so important tot he farmers. I mean, I think that when you -- because remember, we're not simply talking about taking what's generated today in terms of the biomass -- taking the waste product, but we're also talking about the opportunities perhaps to grow other crops.
I mean, I'll give you a simple example. There's something called "switch-grass." Switch-grass is something that is used today to help prevent erosion along stream banks. It also helps to take up nutrients when polluted run-off flows down towards the stream. Well, we now believe, and there are people in the private sector believe that you can actually harvest the switch-grass and use it as a biomass -- turn it into energy.
I mean, those are the kinds of opportunities that will exist for farmers, which is actually growing crops that perhaps they hadn't grown previously because it can become a feed-stock -- because it can become a part of our energy source in this country. There's a value, actually, on -- you might want to --
MR. GLAUBER: The other thing -- one of the big things is sort of increasing the efficiency in terms of generation from some of these feed-stocks; being able to go out and not just harvest the corn for grain, but also a lot of the crop residue, which also can be converted into ethanol. And we look at that -- I mean, that can increase the productivity on an acre by 50 percent in terms of energy output. Overall with this ambitious goal of tripling the use of bio-energy, this could -- we project that it could add somewhere between $15 and $20 billion to the rural sector, and a lot of that would go to farmers.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: I mean, think about it right now -- what the farmer has to do. The farmer, who grows corn that becomes ethanol, is left with a husk, is left with a stalk, is left with roots -- cobb, whatever -- stuff that they have to get rid of - that's garbage to them. What this program is about is not simply using that kernel that we can use today to make fuel for our cars, but using the entire stalk. That's great news for America's farmers -- great news.
Q To continue on the great news for farmers -- at present a lot of what you're talking about as crop waste is used as a fertilizer or to reduce soil erosion. I'm curious about what that's going to be ---
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: But not all of it is used that way.
Q But I'm curious what that is going to do for -- input costs for farmers. Are they going to have to start buying -- spending millions of dollars more on fertilizer? Are they going to have trouble complying with government requirements to limit soil erosion because there won't be any crop residue left ont he land?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: I just want to say -- part of what I was talking about in terms of feed stocks, is looking at that exact question. Obviously, some of the plant has to remain in the field, and the whole issue of growing feed stocks and harvesting them -- you do have to reach some judgments about what you leave and what you take for soil nutrition, for help for the soil.
But, to broaden this, dairy farmers in the Northeast, for example, are beginning to -- as the dairy land goes out of production in many areas, are beginning to plant a willow, a fast-growing willow, in upstate New York, for example. And what you do with this willow is, it grows, in two or three years you chop it down, chop it up into small pieces, and mix it with coal, and you can burn it in a power plant with improved environmental emissions.
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: You should explain why they grow it.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY REICHER: They grow it because it's a cash crop; they can sell it. We're just at the beginning of this, but it's a real opportunity for these dairy farmers to do something with the land that's often going out of production.
Q Administrator Browner, you mentioned that the Vice President's in Iowa today, and he's piggy-backing off the announcement the President's making today. Why should -- would we be totally out of line in suspecting that there might be political motivations in this announcement today, to help the Vice President with agricultural interests in Iowa?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: This is good for farmers. There is no doubt about it. This administration has -- the Vice President has seven-plus years' record of working with America's farmers, working to find things that are good for America's farmers. This continues in that tradition. Hey, if it's good politics, so be it. But it's also really good for American farmers, and that's really at the forefront of this.
MR. BALLENTINE: Let me add one thing to that. This has been a bipartisan process. And you'll see the event today is bipartisan. The Chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, Senator Lugar, will be joining the President today at this announcement. And we've been working very closely with them and with Senator Harkin, his ranking member. So this really has been a bipartisan effort, and we are well aware that, going forward, we're going to need to have bipartisan support for this, and he has a bill which is very similar to what we're doing and we're helping him with that as well.
Q Is the administration considering a requirement for ethanol as a gasoline additive, or would it support such proposals from Congress?
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Ethanol is part of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, and it is an important component of EPA's Clean Fuels Program. It is used in cities across the country to meet air pollution challenges. The administration has fought for that, has retained it, and we will continue to do so. This will create additional opportunities for the corn farmers.
Q In terms of an actual mandate, requirement that gasoline have a certain level of ethanol --
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: There is, in the Clean Air Act, a requirement for a certain level of oxygenates. There are many -- ethanol is one of the oxygenates that is used. There's a two-percent requirement. One of the other oxygenates that is used, MTBE, has -- we've raised some issues.
EPA is concerned that it may be contributing to some water pollution problems. We recently completed a blue ribbon panel review of MTBE. That scientific panel has recommended that the oxygenate requirement in the Clean Air Act be adjusted so that we can phase down the use of MTBE, but we will only be supportive of any legislation in Congress that does that if it protects all of the opportunities that exist for ethanol. We believe that ethanol should continue to be an important part of the cleaner fuel program in this country. And we know there are several senators who are considering legislation to resolve this MTBE problem, but at the same time provide an ongoing opportunity for ethanol. There are several drafts -- many of those we've seen we're inclined to be supportive of.
I don't think anything has actually been introduced at this point in time. But we will not -- I want to be very clear about this -- the administration will not be supportive of legislation to amend the Clean Air Act that doesn't preserve all of the opportunities that exist for ethanol.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:55 P.M. EDT