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Hawaii EAAers Help Pass House Ethanol Exemption Bill


March 8, 2007 — A bill that exempts aircraft auto fuel from a state ethanol mandate passed Hawaii?s House of Representatives this week, thanks in part to information provided by EAA at last week?s Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC) committee meeting. HB 791, whose approved version includes the language, ?There is a need to provide non-ethanol gasoline for use in boats, small gasoline-driven tools, experimental and light-sport aircraft,? may face an uphill challenge in the state Senate, however, as the chairman that body?s Energy and Environment Committee has expressed opposition to it.

In April 2006, Hawaii implemented a law requiring 85 percent of all gasoline sold in the state to include at least 10 percent ethanol. Since then, the state?s two refiners, Chevron and Tesoro, have added 10 percent ethanol to 100 percent of their gasoline, thus leaving recreational and commercial boats and aircraft that use auto fuel without a compatible fuel. HB 791 was originally intended to remedy the boat dilemma, but EAA members in Hawaii, led by Chapter 1182 President Terri Thomas, submitted alternate language to the committee provided by EAA?s government relations department. That addition aimed to ensure fuel availability for recreational and general aviation aircraft.

EAA-provided information cited FAA regulations that require only aviation grade fuels be used in certificated aircraft, and that supplemental type certificates (STC) allow some properly altered aircraft to use automotive grade fuels. EAA also included FAA?s Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin issued October 27, 2006, stating that gasoline containing ethanol is not acceptable unless specifically approved by the type certificate or STC.

Thomas, who works at Air Service Hawaii FBO at Hilo International Airport, said, ?EAA was a godsend. They absolutely stepped up to the plate. The information has changed several opinions on the (CPC) committee, and now our goal is to get this information in front of the senators.?

Prior to House passage of HB 791, Sen. Ron Menor, chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, voiced his disapproval of the measure, saying it would water down the ethanol mandate and weaken the state?s effort to reduce its dependence on imported fuel. ?If the bill crosses from the House to the Senate, I would hold the measure in my committee,? he told the Honolulu Advertiser.

EAA is asking its 1,100 members in Hawaii to contact their state senators and urge them to pass the measure so compatible fuel can again be available for aircraft owners and operators, as well as recreational and commercial boaters and users of small gasoline-driven tools. For more information, contact Terri Thomas at 808-968-7417.

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