Oregon Pilots Working To Prevent Ethanol Mandate

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A new law that requires 10 percent ethanol in all auto fuel sold in Oregon is worrying pilots in the state. State officials said the law does not apply to aircraft fuels, but there is no mandate that ethanol-free fuel must be made available. "The fuel distributors we've talked to have all agreed that they would be willing to provide ethanol-free premium to airports, [but] they also say that it must be economical for them to do so," Oregon pilot Dennis Douglas told AVweb. Since they would have to import the fuel from out of state, and only a small percentage of aircraft in Oregon use autofuel, economic viability is problematic. For now, ethanol-free gas is still available in most counties, but the phased-in law will be implemented statewide by the end of this year. Pilots now are lobbying the state legislature to amend the law to exempt premium autofuel from the ethanol provisions for the next five years, so pilots can continue to buy fuel at gas stations.

Conventional wisdom suggests that, by five years from now, manufacturers of all affected equipment will have been able to work out a viable solution to the hazards created by burning ethanol-blended fuel, says EAA. Douglas said that since the affected pilot community is small, he hopes to build more support for changing the law among users of emergency generators, boats and motorcycles, who would also be affected by the fuel change.