Bills seek to reduce or remove ethanol from Maine gas

Source: Scott Thistle, State Politics Editor, Maine Sun Journal • Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013

AUGUSTA — A pair of bills introduced Thursday by state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, could have a significant impact on what goes into the gas tank of your car, lawnmower or snowblower.

One of Timberlake’s bills would cut the percentage of corn-derived ethanol in Maine gasoline from 10 percent to 5 percent. The other measure would allow the state to form a coalition with other New England states to create an ethanol-free gasoline market for Canadian petroleum-vendor Irving.

Timberlake said Irving has offered to deliver ethanol-free gasoline to customers in New England if it has a minimum of three states willing to eliminate ethanol from the gas supply. New Hampshire has passed similar legislation, Timberlake said.

He said he suspects that bill would be amended so gas stations would have the choice of offering either product, with or without ethanol.

A farmer and the owner of a hardware store, Timberlake called ethanol one of the worst “government boondoggles” of his lifetime.

He said the additive wreaks havoc with fuel lines in small engines, especially those that sit unused for any period of time.

“It’s really hard on engines and really affects our fuel mileage,” Timberlake said. “Ethanol doesn’t like small engines; it doesn’t like fuel lines, chain saws, weed whackers, anything with fuel lines.”

He noted that federal farm subsidies paid to those growing corn for ethanol have contributed to a sharp increase in the price of corn and subsequently, in all products made with corn. Everything from feed grain for cattle and dairy cows to most of the food products consumed by humans have corn-based ingredients in them, Timberlake said.

He said getting New England to move away from ethanol could be the first step in a national movement to remove the additive from American gasoline and cut the subsidies to Midwestern farmers growing corn for biofuel.

The next stop for Timberlake’s bills will be the Legislature’s Committee on Labor, Commerce and Economic Development.