Ethanol repeal clears Fla. House committee

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A bill aimed at ending the requirement that the gas drivers buy contain at least 10 percent ethanol or other alternative fuels narrowly cleared a state House committee Tuesday.

Supporters say the market should determine what consumers buy, but the change could cost Florida jobs while accomplishing nothing at the pump.

Claudio Escalera is willing to pay more to fill up his truck with 100 percent gas instead of a 10 percent ethanol blend.

"There's no water, no rust, no nothing," said Escalera, a carpenter. "It's better for my vehicle. Absolutely."

Stations that offer a 100 percent gasoline with no ethanol are few and far between. But the law that allowed it just passed last year.

Ten percent ethanol has been required in all gas since 2010. But state lawmakers clarified last year that stations can offer non-ethanol gas.

Now some want to repeal the blending requirement altogether.

"The honest message is that there simply is not a market for biofuels in the future of this country," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Ft. Walton Beach.

But Dan Cummings' company, INEOS Bio, recently spent $130 million building an ethanol refinery on Florida's east coast. He told lawmakers his company is also looking at other plans as well.

"Sending a message by repealing the (Renewable Fuel Standards) now sends a really chilling message that not only to ourselves with emerging technologies, but a lot of other companies who have invested money here," Cummings said.

The fear by ethanol supporters is that investments will fade and the legislation will accomplish nothing because the 10 percent blend is a federal requirement.

"We just sent a message to those businesses that we no longer believe in renewable energy," said Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. "That's the message that we just sent."

But Escalera doesn't care if others want to save a few bucks buying ethanol blended fuel. He just wants to keep buying 100 percent gasoline.

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