Inhofe to unveil bill allowing states to opt out of ethanol mandate

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) will offer legislation next week that would allow states to opt out of federal law requiring a certain level of ethanol be blended into gasoline.

Inhofe says he's crafting a measure he thinks could pass the Senate that would allow state legislatures to choose to offer pure gasoline for sale in their states.

"I'm going to introduce on Tuesday — and I'm going to announce it today — that we are designing something we think will pass, and that is a state opt-out," Inhofe explained on KFAQ radio in Oklahoma. "Where a state — and it would take a resolution from a state legislature — it would allow them to opt out of this mandate."

Inhofe is the top Republican member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he'll presumably offer his ethanol language next week.

The legislation would provide for states to offer pure gasoline alongside ethanol-gas mixtures, for which federal regulations currently call. Ethanol is supposed to make up 10 percent of the content of gas sold in the United States.

An aide to Inhofe said that they see optimism for bipartisan support for the option, possibly along the fault lines seen in the 2007 energy bill, where some conservatives joined liberals, driven by environmental concerns, in opposition to the ethanol mandates.

Inhofe defended the move as one that would pay off in the long run for consumers.

"Now, you might say, 'It costs about eight cents more,' " he said. "Well, your mileage more than offsets that, and the life of the engine, all of these things — I think we all understand now, it was a mistake on the mandate, they can't back down, but we can carve out an exception for the state of Oklahoma."

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