National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) leaders are applauding a recent decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to approve changes to its reformulated gasoline regulations that will include greater use of ethanol in gasoline sold in the state.

Under the new regulations announced last week, California refineries will begin using a 10 percent ethanol blend in gasoline Dec. 31, 2009. Under current regulations, the state typically uses a 5.7 percent blend.

”California has been a huge market for the ethanol industry and, with the move to 10 percent, it appears the state will continue to be the top user of ethanol in the future,” said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman Bruce Noel. “This move is also significant because of the message it sends the rest of the country about ethanol's environmental benefits.”

California motorists currently use about 850 million gallons of ethanol per year. Under the new guidelines, that amount could rise to about 1.6 billion gallons. California will be the fifth state to require a 10 percent ethanol blend in its gasoline.

"Clean fuels are essential to reaching healthy air goals in California," said CARB Chairman, Dr. Robert Sawyer. "This action helps fuel providers develop the optimum formula for the cleanest burning gasoline, and it allows ARB to forecast emissions from vehicles throughout the state. The greater use of ethanol in the formulas will also reduce global warming emissions."

NCGA says the increased demand for ethanol resulting from California’s move to E10 is equivalent to new demand for 270 million bushels of corn.