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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 4, 2006

Ethanol: one answer to our oil addiction

Starting this month, Hawai'i will begin seeing ethanol fuel blends at the pumps.

That's a good start and welcome news as we try to end our dependence on fossil fuels.

It also moves us just a wee bit closer to energy self-sufficiency, with the potential of revitalizing a segment of our local agriculture industry.

The switch should go smoothly for consumers. Cars built after 1960 should be able to use the fuel that's 85 percent gasoline, cut with 10 percent to 15 percent grain alcohol. It might not do much to push prices down, nor will it provide your car with better mileage. But the mixed fuel moves us toward the goal of independence from foreign oil.

The ethanol dream? That we'll all start using a fuel based on sugar grown here by folks who live here. There's even the hope of cleaner emissions.

But the broad benefits won't be seen until mid-2007. Local producers of ethanol had technical problems and couldn't get started by April 2. Oil companies will have to import about 3 million gallons a month to meet state mandates.

And that's also likely to make ethanol pricier than pure gasoline.

Still, our oil addiction is debilitating. That makes this very small step far better than nothing at all.