For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - The Legislature will send a joint resolution to President Obama, congressional leaders and members of Maine's congressional delegation urging an exemption from federal ethanol requirements for certain grades of fuel. Currently, gasoline sold in Maine and throughout the nation contains a 10 percent blend of the corn-based fuel additive.
The resolution rises from LD 839, sponsored by State Rep. Beth O'Connor (R-Berwick). Her legislation - "Resolve, To Study Motor Fuel and Fuel Additives and To Explore Alternatives to Ethanol Motor Fuel" - won final passage in the House on May 26 on a 92-56 vote. On June 1, the Senate passed it unanimously.
Although the bill came out of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee with an 11-2 Ought Not To Pass recommendation, Rep. O'Connor delivered a strong argument for passage on the House floor. Her remarks touched on a number of concerns about ethanol, including the damage it can cause to small engines, its inflationary impact on food prices, its role in depressing vehicle gas mileage and the fact that it takes nearly twice as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the ethanol itself yields.
Rep. O'Connor characterized corn ethanol as "a colossal waste" and a "disaster," subsidized by billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers.
"Few people are aware of how big the ethanol industry has grown in such a short period," Rep. O'Connor said in her formal remarks. "Ethanol consumption of corn has soared from 1.6 billion bushels in 2006 to an anticipated 4.3 billion bushels this year. Ethanol's share of our total corn crop has skyrocketed from 14 percent to 33 percent during the same period.
"Corn grown for ethanol now occupies 10 percent of the total arable land in the country," she added, "and the powers that be in Washington want to increase the amount in our fuel from 10 percent to 15 percent." She noted that converting corn to fuel is driving food inflation because the all-time high price for corn is passed on to food manufacturers and animal feed businesses and ultimately to consumers.
Rep. O'Connor also said the burning of corn ethanol increases the emissions of gases and hazardous air pollutants that are "probable carcinogens" and are "the cause of numerous health issues, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory problems."
The document the Legislature will send to Washington is titled, "Joint Resolution Memorializing Congress to Express Disapproval of Corn Ethanol as a Fuel Additive and to Urge the Allowance of Alternatives to Corn Ethanol as a Fuel Additive."
The resolution asks members of Congress "to realize the major problems of corn ethanol as a fuel additive and its numerous negative effects to not only Maine citizens but to all Americans." Furthermore, it requests that Congress consider exempting some grades of motor fuel from provisions of the Clean Air Act, which requires that fuel contain a blend of 10 percent ethanol.
Maine House Republicans
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