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Maine anti-ethanol bill passes, with implementation conditions

By Holly Jessen | June 06, 2013

State legislators in Maine have approved a bill prohibiting the sale of corn-based ethanol. However, the ban only goes in effect if 10 other states or a number of states with the collective population of 30 million pass similar bills. Maine’s bill is now in front of the state’s governor for signature, the final step necessary to make it law.

The residents of Maine have concerns about ethanol, state Rep. Joan Welsh, D-Rockport, told Ethanol Producer Magazine. Although she shares many of those concerns, Welsh didn’t vote for this bill. “It’s really more of a federal issue, than a state issue,” she said, adding she is concerned that the bill’s implementation would drive up gas prices.

The language in the first version of the bill called for the ban of all ethanol, regardless of its source. However, the bill was later changed to ban only corn-based ethanol, leaving room for the growth of cellulosic ethanol from alternate feedstocks, Welsh said, adding that she would like to see the second generation ethanol industry reach commercial-scale.

The other change in the bill was the conditions for implementation. The version that first passed in the House said that the law would only go into effect if two other New England states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, also pass similar laws. The new conditions were part of an amendment to the version passed in the Senate, she said. 

Maine legislators considered two other anti-ethanol bills this year, one of which passed previously and another one that didn’t. The bill that passed, which has now been signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage, limits corn-ethanol blends to 10 percent in Maine. The law only goes into effect if two other New England states also pass similar laws. The bill that did not pass was to decrease the ethanol content of gasoline in Maine from 10 percent to 5 percent.