Media & News

Blog
States Take Polar Opposite Stances on Ethanol Use, Imported Oil Demand

March 23, 2011

           

Legislative bodies in Nebraska and New Hampshire have taken two very different approaches to dealing with America's dependence on imported oil.  In the Nebraska Senate, a bill to remove labels for ethanol blends of up to 10 percent (E10) passed and is moving toward a final vote.  The bill would leave in place the state mandate for labels of ethanol blends in excess of 10 percent by volume. In a letter to Nebraska Senators sent yesterday, Renewable Fuels Association Chairman and KAAPA Ethanol (Minden, NE) CEO Chuck Woodside wrote, "For nearly 30 years, ethanol has proven to be a safe and effective component in the nation's gasoline supply. Blends of 10 percent ethanol, known as E10, have been tested in all engine types produced for use in the United States and the original engine manufacturers have all extended warranty coverage for such blends. The efficacy and safety of E10 ethanol blends has been clearly demonstrated by the hundreds of millions of miles driven and countless hours operated on ethanol blends." Woodside also noted in his letter that "Some petroleum marketers and critics also contend that consumers need to know if ethanol is in their gasoline, but they don't require the same reporting for other more toxic ingredients. Gasoline contains suspected carcinogens and other substances hazardous to human health like benzene and naphthalene, yet no label is required to inform consumers. Ethanol, by comparison, is a biodegradable ingredient and one that does not pose the same human health risks." In other states where ethanol labels have been removed, such as Kansas and Michigan, sales of ethanol year over year have increased dramatically and thus helped those states reduce their reliance on petroleum-based fuels. On the flipside, the New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to ban corn-based ethanol in the state.  According to Representative David Campbell, this vote was a message that ethanol mandates raise the price of gasoline. Such a comment speaks to Rep. Campbell's misinformation - and that being provided to other lawmakers in the Granite State - regarding the nature of ethanol and gasoline markets.  Ethanol-blended gasoline today is between a nickel and a dime cheaper than conventional gasoline.  Moreover, the presence of ethanol as 10 percent of the nation's gasoline supply is putting downward pressure on oil prices and prices at the pump.  Banning ethanol from any feedstock only leads down one path – more imported oil.  Perhaps the state should reconsider its motto to say Live Free and Stay Dependent on Imported Oil. While this bill still must past the New Hampshire Senate, it is also unclear if any state has the authority to enact such a provision as it may run afoul of the federal law regarding the use of renewable fuels known as the Renewable Fuels Standard.