What’s in your gas?
March 23rd, 2011
Lincoln, NE -A proposal to discontinue ethanol labeling requirements at Nebraska gas pumps provoked pushback from senators who say consumers have the right to know. Currently, if gas contains more than one percent alcohol, that fact has to be disclosed at the pump. As amended, Imperial Senator Mark Christensenâ€™s proposal would require labeling only at 11 percent or more. Christensen explained the reasoning.
â€œI think thereâ€™s a stigma when you see it says â€˜alcohol added.â€™ People think … if thatâ€™s added, it must not be good and avoid it when they see that, not knowing itâ€™s actually good for the economy, the environment â€“ and still good for your vehicle.â€
Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said the ethanol industry supports the proposal.
â€œThey asked for it because they believe the ethanol sales would increase. I say whatâ€™s wrong with that? And those in opposition that want to make sure what they put in their vehicles is fuel that has no more than one percent ethanol, would now have to ask.â€
Senator Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids said changing the requirement would probably increase sales of ethanol-blended fuel to consumers who donâ€™t care, one way or the other. Senators opposed to the idea said consumers deserve to know whatâ€™s in their fuel. Among them was Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilber.
â€œI think thereâ€™s about 25 percent of people that donâ€™t burn ethanol right now,” Karpisek said. “To me, thatâ€™s up to them. They donâ€™t have to if they donâ€™t want to. This is making them do it, pretty much.â€
Critics cited concerns that ethanol can hurt small engines, like those on lawnmowers and older vehicles. Omaha Senator Scott Lautenbaugh said his constituents oppose doing away with the labeling requirements.
â€œPeople say â€˜No, we want to know what weâ€™re buying, regardless of our motives for wanting to know,” he said. “And I feel like I have to abide by that. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessary at this point that this become a debate about the merits of ethanol. I think weâ€™re just talking about truth in labeling at this point.â€
The bill got first round approval with 25 votes, the minimum needed to advance.
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