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Publish Date: 10/28/2005

Lawmakers back proposal for state ethanol mandates


DENVER — A legislative committee has endorsed a scaled-back version of a proposal to require that most gasoline sold in Colorado contain an ethanol blend.

Longmont Democratic Sen. Brandon Shaffer expects to introduce a bill next year that would require gasoline to contain 5 percent denatured ethanol starting Jan. 1, 2007, and 10 percent ethanol by Jan. 1, 2009.

An earlier proposal also would have required 20 percent ethanol blends by 2013.

However, witnesses at Thursday’s meeting of the Interim Committee on Rural Economic Development Issues said a 20 percent mandate could cause problems because it exceeds federally sanctioned standards and conventional motor vehicle warranties that now accept up to 10 percent blends.

Though Shaffer said he’d like Colorado “to continue to aspire to a higher standard,” he agreed to amend the draft measure but leave the door open for the 20 percent requirement if federal standards and vehicle warranties change.

Representatives of the Colorado Petroleum Association and the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association told lawmakers that the marketplace, rather than state-imposed mandates, should dictate the gasoline-ethanol mixtures available to Colorado motorists.

“We look at ethanol truly as our business partner,” Petroleum Association president Stan Dempsey said, but “we don’t need a command-and-control model.”

“We’re not anti-ethanol,” the Petroleum Marketing Association’s Roy Turner agreed, but his association “is somewhat anti-mandate.”

Turner predicted that increased ethanol blends will happen without state mandates.

But John Cevette, executive director of the Colorado Corn Growers Association, argued the clean-air benefits of oxygenated fuels. “The free market doesn’t always work well with oil and gas,” he said.

Shaffer and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, a Jefferson County Democrat who also is a member of the Rural Economic Development Committee, said one reason for promoting ethanol and other renewable energy sources as alternatives to petroleum is to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The corn growers’ Cevette made a similar point, saying: “We are not going to have to go to war with the Colorado farmer to get the source of that fuel.”

Rural Economic Development Issues Committee members voted unanimously Thursday to allow Shaffer’s proposal to be introduced as a committee bill when the Legislature convenes in January.

John Fryar can be reached by e-mail at jfryar@times-call.com.

 
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