Dethrow introduces ethanol legislation

Friday, July 11, 2008

MISSOURI -- One Hundred and Fifty Third District State Rep. Mike Dethrow from Alton introduced legislation (HB 2536) in this past session of the Missouri House of Representatives that would repeal Missouri's 10 percent ethanol requirement.

Two years ago, the General Assembly passed Missouri's Renewable Fuel Standard which mandates using 10 percent ethanol in gasoline sold in Missouri when the ethanol blended gas costs less than unblended gas.

In an interview July 3, Dethrow said his Bill did not make it to the House floor last session but he was going to re-introduce HB 2536 when next year's legislative session reconvenes, and he thinks this time he will have much more support.

"I believe it is important to revisit this issue and remove the mandate. The bottom line is that people in this state should be able to choose to buy gasoline with or without ethanol. The 10 percent blend is required in all gas under 91 octane, but the way the law is written there is no guarantee that premium gas is free of ethanol," he said.

The State Representative said many members of the House and Senate thought it seemed like a good idea at the time. "Lower gas for consumers, reduce dependence on foreign oil and help corn farmers add value to $2 corn. This certainly sounds good for politicians to brag about but it has not turned out that way some two years later," he said.

He said today, Missouri's blended gasoline requirement is only a part of the problem with unprecedented livestock feed costs rising, food prices, complaints about poor gas mileage and two-cycle engine problems. "It seems that there is even a bigger problem with public policy at the federal level with huge renewable fuel mandates in addition to the weak dollar, high gas and diesel prices as well as a strong demand for oil and crops around the world," Dethrow said.

He said that another result of the government created demand is that it helps inflate the price of feed for livestock and food for the table which hits everyone square in the pocketbook at the worst possible time.

"By their nature, mandates go against the free market principals that guide our country's economic framework. There is no doubt that it is better for competition to drive the marketplace, not government interference at the national and state levels," he said.

Dethrow said there is another push for a mandate by special interest groups. He said they are promoting a five percent biodiesel standard for all diesel sold in Missouri. He said the proposed biodiesel standard, which he said is really a mandate, is not much different from the 10 percent ethanol requirement since it is created out of the same mold.

"I will not support this mandate disguised as a renewable fuel standard that takes away consumer choice, drives up food and livestock feed prices and takes away the possibility for free market innovation of other alternative fuels. I think most folks support market development of alternative fuels but not mandates that create unintended consequences," he said.

Dethrow was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 and then again in 2006. He is chairman of the Appropriations-Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the House. He also serves on the Budget Committee Special Committee and the Workforce Development and Workplace Safety Committee.

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