Your bloggers have reported this year on Florida’s ethanol mandates, which took effect in January of this year. As a consequence, Florida’s huge boating and sport aviation communities have suffered from a lack of ethanol-free fuel and all the known negative effects of ethanol blends. It seems that consumers have had enough and are prepared to repeal the mandate, thanks to a bill passing through committee in the Florida Legislature sponsored by Representative Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach.
As described by Gaetz in this article from the SaintPetersBlog, “The Florida ethanol mandate became law in 2008. The argument was that ethanol use could reduce carbon emissions and create ‘green jobs’ in our state given the prolific sugar growing in South Florida. We now know the benefits of ethanol were overstated and the negative consequences overlooked. Today, government is literally crawling into our gas cans with a product that can be harmful to our engines, our economy and our environment alike. And with soaring gas prices impacting our pocketbooks, government should not mandate a product that cuts miles per gallon.”
As blogger Dean Billing points out, simply repealing the current E10 mandate in Florida is not a guarantee that ethanol-free fuel will become available. In fact, it could result in even higher levels of ethanol in fuels: “Florida has a state mandatory E10 law that went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year. It was the last state to pass a mandatory E10 law, although two states have untriggered mandatory state E10 laws on their books, Montana and Pennsylvania. What they are trying to do in Florida is repeal the state E10 mandate. Repealing the Florida mandatory E10 law will have no effect whatsoever on the federal ethanol production mandates that are part of the EISA 2007 law passed by Congress. The repeal could also remove the exceptions for marine, aviation, old cars, small engines, etc. and — unless he puts in place a prohibition of ethanol blending in premium unleaded — it may do more harm than good. The mandatory E10 law probably locks E10 as the maximum ethanol blending level. If the law is repealed, it could open Florida up to E15, which was approved by the EPA for part of the vehicle fleet earlier this year. That would make matters even worse than they are today.”
We commend Gaetz on his efforts, but urge him to consider all the consequences of repealing Florida’s current ethanol mandates. Should his HB 4013 pass with the protections we recommend, lead-free, ethanol-free autogas should become more available and more affordable to pilots in the Sunshine State in the future.
The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.