(Posted Thu. Nov 29th, 2012)

Nov. 29: The National Corn Growers Association recently joined the Urban Air Initiative, an organization that promotes the human health and environmental benefits of ethanol.  Focusing on ways to reduce the impact of particulate matter emitted from automobiles, UAI brings a new coalition of partners together to support government standards that recognize the important role ethanol plays in lowering these harmful emissions.


“Joining UAI will benefit corn farmers by involving NCGA in important conversations about how ethanol can help our nation achieve important health and environmental goals,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis. “Additionally, joining UAI builds relationships with a variety of influential groups, such as those representing asthma interests, with whom we share common interests but have not previously collaborated.  Conversations about reducing the harmful effects modern traffic has upon our respiratory health and the health of our planet play a major role in the formation of public policy. It is imperative that we join in and make sure farmer voices are heard.”


Several of NCGA’s state affiliates have provided funds to support the UAI, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. NCGA will have three seats on the steering committee, which will be held by NCGA Ethanol Committee Vice Chair Paul Taylor, NCGA Director of Biofuels Pam Keck and a grower leader who has not yet been selected.


UAI focuses on the impact that ethanol has in improving urban air because those living in urban communities are the most seriously impacted by pollution concentrated in areas with a significant amount of automotive traffic and freeways. With certain components of gasoline classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Hazardous Air Pollutants, UAI focuses on how ethanol can reduce the emissions of automobiles when blended with traditional gasoline. UAI uses research on the comparative emission impacts of ethanol and gasoline to promote fuel standards that make use of ethanol to improve public health and the environment.


“Efforts to improve our air quality, and thus our personal and environmental health, date back to the 1970s,” said Willis. “For decades, our industry has recognized the role ethanol plays in meeting these goals. UAI provides another channel for NCGA and its state affiliates through which we can promote the real-world benefits ethanol offers today.”


Legislation promoting clean air was first enacted in 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act. Created to foster the growth of a strong American economy and industry while improving human health and the environment, the legislation was revised in 1990 with amendments designed to curb four major threats to the environment and to the health of millions of Americans: acid rain, urban air pollution, toxic air emissions and stratospheric ozone depletion.


In a recent report on the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act, the EPA notes that air quality has greatly improved in recent years, but acknowledges that “vehicles on the road – even newer, cleaner models – still account for over 25 percent of air-polluting emissions nationwide.” 


To learn more about the Urban Air Initiative, click here.