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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

Ethanol is in New Jersey's Future Says Industry

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

WASHINGTON – Speaking recently with farmers in the State of New Jersey, ethanol industry experts said ethanol is definitely in the future as farmers may be suppliers and/or owners of a proposed 10 million gallon ethanol plant there.

“Ethanol is the answer to New Jersey’s MTBE crisis and helps farmers at the same time,” said Bob Dinneen, Vice-President of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Widespread MTBE water contamination has ignited many efforts to ban the oxygen additive. It’s only a matter of time until that happens. Oil refiners are still going to need to produce clean burning gasoline – that takes oxygen. And consumers are going to continue to demand a high performance gasoline – that takes octane. Ethanol is the best source for both.”

In response to regional air quality problems, the Clean Air Act mandates that oxygenates are to be added to reformulated gasoline (RFG) to make a cleaner burning fuel where appropriate, such as cities with smog problems. Although Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) and ethanol can be used for this purpose, refineries have chosen to largely go with MTBE. However, MTBE has contaminated thousands of groundwater sources across the US.

“New Jersey is drowning in MTBE contamination,” said Dinneen. “And farmers are facing the lowest commodity prices in a generation. Ethanol can address both problems today. We have more than enough ethanol in storage to replace an entire year’s worth of MTBE use for New Jersey.”

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, New Jersey uses 400 million gallons of MTBE each year. Because ethanol has twice the oxygen content, only 200 million gallons of ethanol could replace all of the MTBE.

“Switching to ethanol would be a huge boost to the New Jersey economy and farmers, said Dinneen. “The ethanol plant would initially employ about 40 people and require 4 million bushels of New Jersey corn. This plant would be the first step for New Jersey to replace imported MTBE with a safe, home grown product. As a farmer owned cooperative, the plant would help New Jersey farmers get a piece of the value-added agriculture pie.”

Update 2004

In March, 2000 the Clinton-Gore administration took a stand against MTBE and for the use of ethanol across America. President Clinton set a goal to triple U.S. use of biobased products and bioenergy by 2010. In the last few days Clinton was in office he set a plan in motion to phase MTBE out completely over 4 years. However, President Bush stopped the program and has put the issue aside as of February, 2004. The three major producers of MTBE have donated over $1 million dollars to the Republicans since Bush took office. “This is a classic case of the Bush administration helping its campaign contributor friends at the expense of public health,” said Frank O’Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, a Washington-based environmental group. Without government support, 17 states have decided to ban the additive and dozens of communities are suing the oil industry. The EPA’s position on MTBE remains the same. Read about MTBE on EPA’s MTBE home page or about the Bush Administration’s decision to ignore the EPA in an article published by the Associated Press, Copyright 2004.

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