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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ethanol in your gas -- not with bill moving through House and Senate

6

December

You know that label on just about every gas pump tank in Florida that announces the fuel contains 10 percent ethanol? Forget about it if a bill that passed the House Energy and Utilities Committee Wednesday becomes law.

The bill, HB 4013 by Rep. Matt Gaetz, would repeal the 2008 Florida law that requires gasoline to include ethanol. A Senate committee has already approved the measure 10-1.

Gaetz argued that the corn-based biofuel causes problems in boats, lawn mowers and old cars, is an efficient net consumer of energy and a unfair government mandate. He compared it to tacos.

"Businesses particularly love stability when the government mandates that the public buy that business's products,'' he said. "If I sold tacos for a living, I would really like an environment where the government forced everyone to eat three tacos a day."

But Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, a Democrat from Tallahassee, noted that "tacos are not energy policy. Energy policy is important not only to the state but to national security and our economy." She argued that increasing the use of renewables such as ethanols is essential to decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

The committee also heard from companies that produce biofuels in Florida, who warned that the measure will reduce jobs and may not reduce the amount of ethanol at the pump, since federal law also includes ethanol requirements and gasoline producers will include it even if Florida doesn't require it. Marine industry and boat manufacturing lobbyists argued in favor of the measure, even though state law exempts gasoline used in aircraft and boats from including ethanol.

-- Mary Ellen Klas

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:34pm]

    

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