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Maine on the brink of banning ethanol, steps back from the ledge

Posted by: Bell Performance

Following up on a post a few months ago about Maine considering state laws to limit ethanol content in gasoline and ban E15, we now learn that a couple of related bills passed the Maine House of Representatives but died in the state Senate.

banning ethanolL.D. 105 was passed by the House by a substantial margin and would allow gas stations in Maine to sell gasoline with only 5% ethanol content instead of the current 10% ethanol in gas. No word yet on whether it is likely to pass the Senate vote needed to turn it into law (remember that, just as in Congress, bills have to pass both the House of Reps and the Senate before they can be signed into law).

L.D. 115 was also passed by a big margin in the House, 109-32, but was shut down in the Senate by a 21-14 vote.  L.D. 115 proposed the even-broader change of banning ethanol in Maine's gasoline completely, but only if two other New England states went along with it.

So maybe it was going to end up as 'much ado about nothing', but just as we mentioned a few months ago, it's really more about the principle and future precedent. A state government is actually taking action to circumvent a federal policy issue - the requirement to have an oxygenate in gasoline. Now, ethanol happens to be that oxygenate of choice, so technically the Federal law isn't about a mandate for ethanol specifically. But in practice, that's what it ends up being.

The possible conflict with Federal law (the Clean Air Act) is likely what killed L.D. 115 in the state Senate. That, and opponents saying that three states in the region taking such action would cause inflated gas prices.

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This post was published on May 17, 2013 and was updated on January 8, 2014.

Topics: Ethanol