Michigan Democrats push alternative fuels to lower price at pump

| Wednesday, September 14, 2005

With prices at the pump shooting toward $3 per gallon and no signs of stopping there, Democrats in the Michigan House are pushing a package of bills intended to drive down the cost of diesel and gasoline by decreasing the state’s reliance on foreign fuel.

“Relying on foreign oil is bad for consumers, bad for the environment and bad for our wallets,” Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, said in a written statement. “Right now, consumers are stuck in a foreign oil barrel, and we’re heading over the edge of the falls. We need to develop the fuels of the future right here in Michigan.”

House Democrats are expected to draft and introduce the six-bill package within weeks.

Their bills would: give tax incentives to fuel stations in the state who buy equipment that enables them to sell biodiesel or fuel ethanol; require that all fuel stations to offer fuel with at least 10 percent ethanol content; require biodiesel to comprise 5 percent of diesel fuel; and encourage the state fleet of vehicles to use biodiesel vehicles.

“We need to take serious steps to relieve the pain at the pump we’re all feeling,” Rep. John Espinoza, D-Croswell, said in a written statement. “We’re in the middle of the biggest run-up in oil and gasoline prices we’ve ever seen. It’s time to take action to address the problem and ensure our long-term energy needs are met.”

A House Republican has offered his own plan to ease the pain at the pump.

Rep. Robert Gosselin, R-Troy, has proposed a measure to drop the state’s sales tax on gasoline – but only after a certain point.

The bill – HB4841 – would drop the 6 percent sales tax if the price pushes above $2.30 a gallon for regular unleaded.

However, Gosselin said the move would save motorists only a few cents per gallon.

According to The Detroit News, the tax would cost Michigan $3 million a year in sales tax revenue for every penny that gas prices rise above $2.30.

The bill is in the House Tax Policy Committee.

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