Engineering News

Pa. Legislator Proposes Bill to Take Ethanol Out of State's Gasoline
July 20, 2011

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, thinks the intentions behind mixing ethanol in with gasoline were all good.

Helping the environment? Reducing dependence on foreign oil? Bringing down the price of gas? Nobody's going to argue with those.

The problem, Grove argues, is that the ethanol-spiked gas never delivered on its promised benefits, and it brought a bunch of unintended consequences along with it -- everything from engine troubles to higher corn prices.

So Grove has introduced a bill that would repeal the ethanol blending requirements from Pennsylvania law.

He readily admits that, because permissible ethanol levels are set at the federal level, his bill wouldn't have any practical effect if it became law. He said he's introducing it as a symbolic act of protest.

"It sends a message to the federal government that Pennsylvania residents don't want the ethanol mandate anymore," he said.

Grove said he got the idea for his legislation from discussions with constituents, who complained that ethanol is bad for engines on older-model cars, as well as small engines such as those on boats and lawn mowers.

That's exactly what Andrea Crone, owner of Crone's Gas and Goodies in Dover Township, thinks.

Her convenience store used to sell gas without ethanol and had customers coming from 30 miles away. A few months ago, their supplier in Allentown discontinued it. That, and trouble with the tanks, prompted Crone to stop selling gas at her business altogether.

"We would get back into the gas business if not for the ethanol situation," she said.

Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the national Renewable Fuels Association, said federal law technically doesn't dictate the ethanol content of the gas you buy at service stations. The federal government mandates that a percentage of gasoline refiners produce use a certain amount of renewable fuels in their overall product.

The Environmental Protection Agency currently limits the allowable amount of ethanol in fuel at 10 percent. The agency is in the final stages of approving a 15 percent limit, Hartwig said.

Hartwig cited a study by Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin stating that blending ethanol with gasoline made for average national savings of 89 cents per gallon last year.

"It's cheaper than gasoline," he said. "If you remove it from the gasoline supply, you've got to make up for it from somewhere else," he said.

In detail

Rep. Seth Grove's bill would overturn the Pennsylvania Biofuel Development and In-State Production Incentive Act of 2008.

Grove said the 2008 law mandated that all gasoline sold in Pennsylvania include a 10 percent blend, but the mandate only kicks in once the amount of ethanol being produced in Pennsylvania equals 360 million gallons a year. Back in 2008, Grove said, Pennsylvania was producing about 10 percent of that amount.

Currently, no ethanol is being produced in Pennsylvania. Grove said he doesn't expect the Pennsylvania ethanol industry to suddenly pick up again, and he's introducing the legislation largely as an act of symbolic protest.

Source: York Daily Record, PA

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