State Rep. Matt Gaetz continues fight to end ethanol mandate

FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM.

FORT WALTON BEACH -- Last year state Rep. Matt Gaetz was able to neuter but not kill a state requirement that Florida service stations pump only gasoline containing ethanol.

His fellow lawmakers refused to take the 2008 Renewable Fuel Standard Act off the books, but they did agree to remove provisions through which merchants could be punished for ignoring it.

“Only in government do you get a compromise like I got,” Gaetz told the Okaloosa League of Women Voters recently. “We still have the mandate, but you don’t get in trouble for violating it.”

This year he and state Sen. Greg Evers of Baker have vowed to try again to do away with the ethanol mandate.

Gaetz, who has already filed House Bill 4001 to eliminate the ethanol mandate, said he learned Tuesday that Adam Putnam, commissioner of Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was dropping his opposition to it.

“Last year Commissioner Putnam’s opposition was a major hurdle for us,” said Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. Gaetz said Putnam decided to drop his opposition after learning that BP, which had considered building a major ethanol refining plant in Central Florida, was backing off the idea.

“They’ve decided ethanol production in Florida is not viable,” he said.

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