US relaxes emission norms for ethanol plants

Published: Tuesday 15 May 2007

On April 12, 2007, the us government decided to relax emission norms for ethanol plants that are based on corn and other carbohydrate feedstock. The new rule is expected to boost ethanol production in the us.

Previously, plants producing fuel-additive ethanol were allowed to emit 100 tonnes of air pollutants a year, while plants producing edible ethanol were permitted to emit 250 tonnes a year. This distinction has been removed. The new rule, issued by the us Environmental Protection Agency (epa), also treats all facilities producing ethanol for human consumption, industrial use or fuel, equally under the Clean Air Act permitting requirements. The production processes of the fuel additive and edible ethanol plants are similar--the only difference is the small amount of gasoline added to fuel ethanol to make it undrinkable. The decision will, however, not relax existing air quality standards and emission control technologies, epa notes.

Currently, there are 18 ethanol production plants in the us and 76 more are under construction. By the end of 2006, the ethanol production capacity of the us had reached nearly 20 billion litres.

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