House Bill aims to repeal ethanol requirement in Hawaii gas

Diane Peterson, AAA Hawaii Regional Manager
Diane Peterson, AAA Hawaii Regional Manager
Barney Robinson, Nimitz Chevron Gas Station
Barney Robinson, Nimitz Chevron Gas Station

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii drivers are paying the most in the country for gas and part of the reason is a failed attempt to help the environment.  State lawmakers are trying to reverse the damage from the 2006 law adding ethanol to most of our gas tanks. Turns out the fuel made from plants has been adding to our bills, not reducing them.

Anyone who has filled up their gas tank recently knows prices are going up.  In Honolulu and Wailuku the price of regular unleaded went up 41 cents a gallon over this time last year and in Hilo it's gone up 59 cents a gallon.

"I just kind of suck it up, close my eyes, pull out my credit card  and fill my tank up," said Chris Azevedo, driver.

"It's just part of life nowadays you know, prices go up, gas prices everything goes up and your paycheck pretty much stays the same," said Robert Cooper Jr., driver.

"There have been a couple times where they were getting a little more stable but we've seen it spike up to the highest gas price," said Diane Peterson, AAA Hawaii Regional Manager.

Hawaii's gas prices are the highest in the country for many reasons including a failed attempt at going green.  A federal tax credit for using ethanol expired last month which added 5 cents a gallon for drivers.

"Nobody is gouging anybody. We're doing what needs to be done to provide a product to the community and in the process hopefully get enough money to pay our bills and make a living at it," said Barney Robinson, Nimitz Chevron Gas Station.

In 2006 state lawmakers made it mandatory to add 10 percent ethanol to gas.  The idea was reduce the need for imported oil but that's backfired.  Critics say we're now importing more oil and ethanol.  No companies are able to produce ethanol locally. Cars get worse mileage with ethanol so they fill up more.  It's actually damaging boat and small engines.  Growing crops for ethanol has increased food prices and there really isn't an environmental benefit.  All reasons driving an effort at the state capitol to repeal the ethanol mandate.

"I think a lot of people would like to see that mandate go away. I think it would be a benefit for the people of Hawaii to have that mandate go away," said Robinson.

What is not expected to go away are the high costs.  It's impossible to tell what exactly gas prices will do in the future but some national pundits predict it will reach $5 a gallon by the end of summer.

To read the HB2322 to repeal the ethanol requirement click here.

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