Washington State bill may accelerate end of Mogas

By DEAN BILLING

Washington State pilots should be aware of a bill in the Washington legislature that will have a detrimental effect on the availability of the rapidly disappearing ethanol-free unleaded auto fuel.

The bill is ostensibly a bio-diesel bill.  It is HB-2405, you can read it here. Buried in the bill are two sections dealing with ethanol-blended auto fuel.

Ironically one section will repeal Washington’s useless 2% volumetric ethanol mandate. During the first public testimony on the bill it was pointed out by politicians that the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate, EISA 2007, had swamped the piddling Washington mandate. However, if the state mandate is repealed, Washington will join the majority of states that have no statute protection for ethanol-free gasoline for aviation use, although the Washington protection was pretty much useless because it did not guarantee the availability of the needed ethanol-free fuel for aviation use.

Ethanol blending in the state of Washington will now follow whatever the EPA mandates and, of course, the agency is talking about raising the blending limit to 15% for cars that were built in 2001 or later, even though there is no economic way to implement such a dual blending level program.  (If you want to understand why, click here.

The more ominous change is Section 1 (4), which will allow the state to drop the requirement to label pumps with bio-fuel content. This is a favorite ploy of the bio-fuel industry. It has tried to get this type of legislation passed in a number of states with mandatory pump label laws.  Those in the industry don’t want you to know how much bio-fuel, ethanol or bio-diesel, is in the fuel you buy. This legislation is a clear threat to public safety. Ethanol-blended fuel can damage property, especially in the marine industry, and should never be used in portable tools used by public safety organizations. Hopefully accurate pump labeling will be addressed by the EPA when and if they rule on the E15 waiver. EPA officials indicated that they understand this is an important issue in their waffling response to Growth Energy (labeling is at the end of the letter).

I would urge pilots in Washington to contact their house legislative representatives and urge them to ensure that all pumps in the state of Washington continue to be accurately labeled with bio-fuel content. You might also want to explain to them the economic consequences of the disappearance of ethanol-free premium unleaded gasoline and how it is affecting the aviation and marine industry.

The GAfuels Blog is written by three private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft. They are:

  • Dean Billing (Sisters, Ore.) – an expert on autogas and ethanol
  • Kent Misegades (Cary, N.C.) – an aerospace engineer and aviation journalist
  • Todd Petersen (Minden, Neb.) – former aerial applicator and owner of more than 150 Mogas STCs for aircraft

For a list of airports that have ethanol-free fuel and those no longer pumping it, compiled by the authors, follow this link.

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