Representative Matt Gaetz Fights to End State Ethanol Mandate - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Representative Matt Gaetz Fights to End State Ethanol Mandate

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A Florida Representative from the Panhandle is hoping to add fuel to the fires of change, as he fights for the end of the State's ethanol mandate.

State law currently requires gas stations to sell fuel containing 9 to10 percent ethanol, but Representative Matt Gaetz wants to bring choice to the people.

If Gaetz had his way, there would be no ethanol requirement.

It's a fight he started last legislative session and he intends to end it in the next.

"I believe in more freedom at the gas pump, and that means not tell people the type of fuel they have to buy," he said.

Speaking Wednesday via Skype, Republican Representative Gaetz called the federal-backed, corn-based bio-fuel, ethanol, an "energy loser."

"There was a Cornell University study that said that it takes about a gallon and a half of gasoline just to make a gallon of ethanol," said Gaetz.

It is why he said he's fighting for the repeal of the 2008 Renewable Fuel Standard Act.

When the law was finally enacted in 2010, it required stations to sell gasoline containing between 9 to 10 percent ethanol.

"Well, if it takes more fossil fuels to make the renewable fuel that is generated, I'm no math major, but that seems like bad public policy to me," Gaetz said.

Last year he was successful in creating lawmaker-approved provisions that would not penalize merchants for selling ethanol free products; however, the law is still on the books and causing confusion.

"What that confusion means is that fewer retailers and distributors are willing to offer ethanol free gasoline," said Gaetz.

T&N Express is one of the only gas stations in Bay County where you have the option of getting ethanol free gasoline in all three grades and it's most loyal customers say they'd drive many miles just to get it.

"It's not a problem because it saves you in the long run. It saves you in repairs," said Bay County resident, Treva Campbell.

Campbell said ethanol is the culprit behind her ruined engines.

"We've had some problems with a motor home. We had to replace the whole thing because of ethanol gas," she said.

John Starling is a former ethanol-free distributor.

"The ethanol is like acid inside your motor and it just eats things away," he said.

Starling said he doesn't mind paying the 30 cents extra to get ethanol free gas, if it means more longevity for his motors, nor did his customers.

"My customers were telling me, "we're not worried about the price, we're worried about the product," said Starling.

Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam dropped his opposition to Gaetz's bill; a big positive move for Gaetz.

This comes after the Federal Court of Appeals opened the door to potentially raising the ethanol percentage in gasoline to 15 percent.