Non-ethanol fuel needs wider isle distribution
THE problem that boaters have with ethanol is not the harm it causes, but the fact that the "system" (government and/or industry) has removed non-ethanol gasoline from the public market and made ethanol-blended gasoline the only type of gasoline available on the major islands. The consequent use of ethanol-blended gasoline under these conditions caused the engine and fiberglass problems testified to previously. Had non-ethanol gasoline been available, the niche market operators would have selected it and none of the ethanol-related problems would have occurred.
Cutting off the availability of non-ethanol gasoline on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai a year ago has provoked the development of House Bill 791 at our Legislature to have it returned. The niche market of boaters/fishermen, motorcyclists, operators of older cars and certain aircraft, and the users of the myriad small gas-engine-driven machines (which range from weed whackers to generators and compressors) are being forced to use ethanol-blended gasoline. This has caused serious economic as well as personal safety problems that can even become life threatening.
THE HARMFUL effects of ethanol-blended gasoline on the equipment used in this niche market are well known and are not disputed. Those affected want non-ethanol gasoline to be made available to them again to preclude the problems they have encountered by using ethanol-blended gasoline.
This problem could have been avoided if the state ethanol/gasoline law had been implemented as it was evidently intended -- 85 percent of all gasoline supplied for motor vehicles would contain 10 percent ethanol by volume and the remaining 15 percent of the gasoline would remain without ethanol. (The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimates that the 15 percent of non-ethanol gasoline would amount to 70 million gallons, which would be sufficient for the needs of the niche market previously described.)
THIS WAS not, however, how the gasoline is actually distributed. At the insistence of the gasoline industry, all of the gasoline that contains 10 percent ethanol is distributed on the four major islands (Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai), and the non-ethanol gasoline is distributed on Lanai and Molokai. This distribution left the public on the major islands without non-ethanol gasoline, and Lanai and Molokai without ethanol-blended gasoline.
This distribution scheme took away non-ethanol gasoline from nearly the entire niche market that is now clamoring for its return -- not in lieu of, but in addition to the currently distributed ethanol-blended gasoline.
Aloha Petroleum has recently stepped up to the plate by making non-ethanol gasoline available at the marinas it services, which are mostly on Oahu. This is commendable, but it cannot satisfy the vast majority of boaters who trailer their boats and who use the 50-plus launch ramps located on every island throughout the state. About 75 percent of the 14,000 to 16,000 state-registered boats are in this category. Add in the other non-ethanol niche users and the problem becomes more obvious.
WE AT THE Hawaii Boaters Political Action Association contend that the current distribution scheme unfairly restricts the supply of gasoline, and feel that it should be changed to better and more fairly serve the public interest. HB 791 SD1, though not perfect, appears to be the only means currently available to do this, and we therefore urge you to support it.
William E. Mossman is a member of the Hawaii Boaters Political Action Association.