In moves that are largely symbolic, Florida and Maine recently passed laws aimed at providing more ethanol-free options at the pump.
As described in the marine publication Trade Only, “It’s one more mandate off the books,” state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who has been trying to achieve the repeal since he took office in 2010, told Northwest Florida Daily News. Service stations can continue to sell gas containing ethanol if they wish, Gaetz added.
Maine legislators voted to ban the use of corn-based ethanol altogether, but as the Bangor Daily News reported, “The original bill banned ethanol in fuel on the condition that two other New England states do the same. The Senate amended the bill so that the ethanol prohibition will take effect only if 10 other states with a collective population of at least 30 million ban it.”
Since neither states banned ethanol’s use in at least one grade of fuel, the moves are largely symbolic since the federal ethanol production mandates in the EISA 2007 Act remain in effect.
Worse yet, the EPA has not addressed the glut of ethanol that is already driving the cost of fuel at the pump ever higher. The reason for this is related to speculation on the price of RINs (Renewable Information Numbers), the means for the EPA to verify that gasoline companies fulfill ethanol mandates. As this article from Norwegian oil producer StatOil describes, “U.S. drivers face a $13 billion increase in the cost of gasoline this year as the price of federally-mandated ethanol credits has risen 10-fold for oil refiners…”
Increasingly some politicians and even some in the oil industry are calling for a complete repeal of the ethanol mandates, including Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, as reported in April in Bloomberg News.