Bill to Remove Ethanol from Gas Dead This Session
A bill that would have repealed a 2006 law requiring that gasoline sold in Hawaii contain 10 percent ethanol is apparently dead for this legislative session.
State Rep. Denny Coffman, chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, said testimony presented on the measure this morning prompted him to defer House Bill 2322.
According to the bill, the 2006 law had failed to reach its objectives which included reducing the cost of gasoline in the state by adding cheaper ethanol and reducing Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil.
Coffman (D-North Kona) said that according to those testifying before his committee, while speculation resulting from federal tax credits forced the cost of ethanol above gasoline for a while, those credits have since expired and ethanol is currently about 80 cents cheaper than gas.
“It’s not adding to the price [of gas] right now,” he said.
Another motivation for the 2006 law was to attract companies willing to build ethanol refineries in Hawaii to provide the additive locally. While that hasn’t happened, Coffman said he was told this morning that there is a company currently preparing to build such a plant.
Fishermen and others in the marine community have long complained about the effects of ethanol doing damage to the boats and motors. Ethanol is a solvent that can dissolve rubber and other engine components, and it also attracts and absorbs water which results in a short storage life.
Gasoline without the ethanol component is available at four gas stations on the Big Island, but many boaters and others concerned about ethanol’s effects on small motors have to travel significant distances to obtain it.
There is still one bill alive that would repeal the 2006 ethanol mandate, but that measure, Senate Bill 715, was held over from the 2011 legislative session and no hearings have been scheduled for it this year.