Gov. Mills’ veto of ethanol bill ‘stinks to high heaven’ says bill sponsor

Rep. Beth O’Connor (left) says that Governor Janet Mills veto of her bill to ban sales of E15 or higher ethanol motor fuels “stinks to high heaven.”

AUGUSTA – A donnybrook is brewing in the Maine State House over Governor Janet Mills’ veto of a bill that was passed unanimously through the Legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources Committee and then unanimously by both the Maine House and Senate.

That bill, which bans the sale of fuels with more than E15 ethanol, was sponsored by veteran legislator Rep. Beth O’Connor (R – Berwick), and she is not pleased with the Governor’s veto or explanation.

“I suspect that the Legal Counsel for the Maine Democratic Party was hired by, what I believe to be, the only company in Maine with tanks capable of selling E15 to lobby the Governor. This stinks to high heaven! Since when do the concerns of one company override our lungs, our environment and need for fuel efficient vehicles that don’t seize up from watered down gas,” said Rep. O’Connor in a written statement from the House Republican Office.

In her veto letter, Governor Mills said she was vetoing the bill because “E15 is not currently sold in Maine, and, as of now, there is insufficient scientific evidence or data to support the claim that it adversely impacts health.”

Governor Mills then went on to say that a study her office reviewed did not show significant health impacts of E10 being in wide use in Maine.

But Rep. O’Connor points to a review by the Environmental Working Group’s senior scientist Dr. Olga V. Naidenko that says higher ethanol fuels may worsen health risks and air pollution, as well as damaging some vehicles.

She also points out that the Natural Resources Defense Council opposes E15 due to the impact of air pollution and damage it causes to vehicles.

That data, and other data from authorities typically respected by liberal elected officials, appears not to have been enough for Mills, who returned the bill ‘unsigned and vetoed’ this week.

“Legislative Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike unanimously voted to ban the sale of motor fuels with more than E-15 ethanol over potential health, environmental and consumer concerns,” said Rep. O’Connor. “Governor Mills vetoed the bill, despite the health, environmental, small engine and fuel economy concerns of Mainers.”

The Maine House and Senate will now take votes to determine if it will override the veto from Mills. It will require a 2/3 majority vote of both chambers to do so.

While the bill passed without a single vote of opposition in the House and Senate, it is not clear if Democrats will break with Mills and override her veto.

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