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Archive for Tuesday, December 28, 2004

State encourages ethanol gasoline use

December 28, 2004

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— State officials are trying to increase Kansans' use of gasoline with ethanol.

The Kansas Energy Council has proposed repealing a 20-year-old law requiring merchants to label pumps that dispense ethanol, arguing the labels push consumers away. However, a trade association has criticized the idea.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued a memo Monday to state employees, urging them to use biofuels when they travel, even in a rented car or their personal vehicles. State law already requires some use of ethanol fuel in state-owned vehicles.

Ethanol is alcohol distilled from grain, usually corn or sorghum, and is blended with gasoline, making it burn cleaner. In her memo, Sebelius said promoting the use of biofuels was a priority for her administration.

"Biofuels benefit both the environment and the pocketbooks of Kansans," Sebelius wrote.

The council said in a report last week that between 4 percent and 5 percent of the state's fuel contains ethanol, estimating that roughly 40 million gallons of ethanol were consumed in Kansas in the past year.

The state has six ethanol plants, producing about 130 million gallons a year from 50 million bushels of grain.

Lee Allison, the council's chairman and Sebelius' top energy policy adviser, said other states, including Missouri, had seen ethanol consumption jump after repealing such labeling requirements, leaving it to merchants whether pumps are marked.

But some council members oppose repealing the requirement.

One, Curt Wright, of Wellsville, vice president of a fuel distribution company, said he didn't oppose promoting ethanol but thought it was deceptive not to tell consumers that gasoline contained it.

Sebelius is reviewing the idea, spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

The proposal also will go to legislators, who open their 2005 session Jan. 10, Allison said.

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