Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 10, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

E-85


  • The first E-85 fueling pump has opened in Maricopa County. Arizona House majority leader Tom Boone joins us to talk about E-85, an 85 percent ethanol fuel blend, and a bill that would help create more biofuel stations in Arizona.
Guests:
  • Tom Boone - State Representative, Republican
Category: Sustainability

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
In a search for an alternative to gasoline, ethanol emerged as a top choice. As a matter of fact, there is an Ethanol producing plant in Pinal County. Until recently, no E-85 fueling station was in Maricopa County. E-85 a blend of gas and ethanol. I'll to a lawmaker about his bill to get more bio-fuel pumps in Arizona. First, Mike Sauceda tells us about the E-85 fueling station.

Mike Sauceda:
This is a car that runs on a cocktail of 85\% booze and 15\% gas. It's a 2006 Chevy Impala Flexfield vehicle owned by state Republican representative Tom Boone. It is filled up for the first time at the Maricopa county first E-85 fueling station. Price per gallon is only $2.79, and the attendant pumps the fuel for you to be sure that the car can use the blend known as E-85.

Tom Boone:
My hope would be this is the first of many stations in the valley. Hopefully there will be one closer to me. My plan to be to use it exclusively from now on.

Mike Sauceda:
The new fueling station is just south of the state capitol at western state petroleum. Bob Kec is the owner of Western States, and says E-85 does have benefits.

Bob Kec:
Super clean emissions, there is no after burning, and it is replacing a fuel that is coming in from overseas.

Mike Sauceda:
Kec says E-85 is purchased from a refinery near Casa Grande. Boone, a long time advocate of bio-fuels, has a couple of bills in the legislature concerning them, one that would give gas stations owners grants of up to $30,000 to help them convert to bio fuels.

Tom Boone:
I've been very supportive of the bio-fuels movement since mid 90, we used bio-diesel there, and I have been an advocate for quite sometime. We have a bill in this session, another bill, two bills; they're intended for two reasons. To help retailers that would like to help carry the bio-fuels, equipment to carry the bio-fuels, allow them to apply for grants from the state fund, not supported by the taxpayers, but supported by grants and -- and also allow -- weights and measures bill, weights and measures flexibility to adjust to all of the rules and regulations coming out on the bio-fuels as a results of the federal energy act that the federal government has passed.

Mike Sauceda:
Boone hopes his bills will lead to more E-85 fueling pumps, but he's happy there's one right now.

Tom Boone:
I'm pleased it is open. I'm pleased we have it available to the folks of Maricopa County. Hopefully, there are other stations that are considering the bio-fuels, the E-85, and I would encourage them to do so. I think there's well over 100,000 vehicles that I'm aware of in Maricopa county that have that capability, and a lot more coming on board with the manufacture. So, I would hope other stations would consider them.

Ted Simons:
Earlier I talked to Republican state representative Tom Boone about his bills that would help create more bio-fuel station.

Ted Simons:
Representative Tom Boone thank you for joining us. We saw you filling up for the first time with E-85. How is it going?

Tom Boone:
Runs fine, car still runs very good. Going very well.

Ted Simons:
Let's talk E-85 and get some definitions out of the way. What is E-85?

Tom Boone:
What E-85 is. It's a fuel blend, 85\% grain and alcohol, 15\% unleaded gas, hence the E-85, the ethanol part is 85\%.

Ted Simons:
And the advantages?

Tom Boone:
It burns cleaner than regular unleaded fuel and it is renewable, meaning it is made from renewable sources, not finite sources.

Ted Simons:
I understand we have how many pumps of this stuff in Maricopa County?

Tom Boone:
There is only one area to get it in Maricopa County now. There is about six or seven outside of the county, but only one inside.

Ted Simons:
Why is that?

Tom Boone:
I passed the law to allow it to be sold in Maricopa County; we are getting around to having stations take a look at carrying it. Prior to that time there was a quirk in the law, EPA statutes that we fall under, and we had to make a minor change to allow stations to carry it in the valley. Now they can. They are slowly coming around to taking a look at it.

Ted Simons:
Other places around the state, a few in Pima County. Correct?

Tom Boone:
Yes, there is. Down in Tucson, Sierra Vista, and up north in Prescott.

Ted Simons:
Why there and not here?

Tom Boone:
Again, because up until a year and a half ago, about two years ago now it couldn't be sold in Maricopa county because of that correction we had to make.

Ted Simons:
That one thing.

Tom Boone:
That's right.

Ted Simons:
You have two bills making their way right now. Let's talk about those.

Tom Boone:
Sure. Two bills, primary bill 2621, weights and measures, weights and measures department in Arizona oversees all fuels including bio-fuels at the pump to be sure they're high quality, number of gallons being measured and all of that stuff. As a result of the federal energy act passed by congress, a lot of bio-fuels, ethanol 85 and bio-diesel that are going to be produced and distributed in the united states as a result of all of the incentives that are in that act. What that bill does is that it allows the weights and measures, creates all of the definitions and statutes for bio-fuels, allows weights and measures to have the flexibility to react to all of the new fuel and fuel regulations coming down from the feds coming along with the bio-fuels. Allows them to react in a timely manner so that people in Arizona will have choice at the pump in terms of bio-fuels versus regular fuels.

Ted Simons:
The other bill

Tom Boone:
The other bill bioconversion fund program, that is to help stations, some of the older stations have equipment that can't tolerate the bio-fuels, and so there has to be some changes to their equipment. This allows them to apply for grants. No state money involved, but a lot of organizations that want to promote the use of the bio-fuel so it allows the state to get involved in checking those and giving them out to station that want to convert.

Ted Simons:
And how do these bills stand right now.

Tom Boone:
Both bills passed out of the house with wide margins of support. They passed both committees in the senate and they are ready to go to the floor. A minor amendment on one of them, but intact on the way they passed out of the house.

Ted Simons:
Is this legislation the kinds of thing that if you don't have high gas prices, you company don't get anyone's attention?

Tom Boone:
I think that is a good way of looking at it at this point in time. Looking at bio-fuels in light of the high petroleum prices, definitely spurs interest in the bio-fuels.

Ted Simons:
Is that one of your major frustrations?

Tom Boone:
It is.

Ted Simons:
What are the other frustrations? Are people not paying attention until the prices get so high?

Tom Boone:
I think a lot of people are beginning to look at the bio-fuels more not only for the pricing part but the part for the environmental sides, renewable fuels, both burn very clean compared to petroleum counterparts. I think more and more people are picking that up. A lot of people don't know in the case of E-85 that they have cars that can even run on that.

Ted Simons:
If someone is watching, this sounds like a great deal. I want to get involved. How do you know if your car runs on it or if you want to get a car that runs on it?

Tom Boone:
You can check the owner's manual, you can go to the internet, and self web sites for E-85 that lists of vehicles made in the united states by year, make, model he, and you can check the VIN number to see if it fits that in VIN number category. A lot of them have tags on them. Another way you can open the filler cap on the inside of the filler cap you can actually, it will say unleaded fuel or E-85. You can check that on your vehicle also.

Ted Simons:
But if you have a Nissan or a Toyota, pretty big sellers here in America, you are out of luck.

Tom Boone:
Right now those two manufacturers to the best of my knowledge don't make the flex fuel vehicles that run on E-85. General motors is pushing it a lot now, ford has pushed it a lot, and Chrysler.

Ted Simons:
Sales figures for those vehicles that can run, does it make much of a difference?

Tom Boone:
In Maricopa alone, estimated to be well in excess of 100,000 vehicles that can run on flex fuel or E-85.

Ted Simons:
I have to ask you, because this is all great environmentally this, that, and the other, if it doesn't cost the right cost no ones going to be interested.

Tom Boone:
I paid less than what unleaded was at the pump when I bought my last tank of E-85. 2.79 and I think it is $3.2 for unleaded gas.

Ted Simons:
If the subsidies go away, all bets are off.

Tom Boone:
If the subsidies go away, it might be slightly higher than unleaded gas. For now enjoy the subsidies.

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