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Rule Change To Allow E-15 Sales In Mo. Rejected By Joint Committee

(via Flickr/bradleypjohnson)

A proposed rule change that would have allowed more ethanol to be blended into gasoline sold in Missouri has been shot down by a joint legislative committee.

Earlier this week, the Missouri Department of Agriculture asked the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to allow the change, saying that E-15 is both safe and good for the state's economy.  But State Senator and committee chair Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) says the proposal would have violated state law.

"Does state law authorize the Department (of Agriculture) on their own to go from E-10 to E-15 without legislation?" Schmitt said.  "The committee voted and viewed it as they did not, that they couldn't go around the legislative process and do this by rule."

Missouri does allow E-85 to be sold, but it can only be marketed to flex-fuel vehicles.  The proposed rule change would have allowed E-15 to be marketed to all vehicles, not just flex-fuel ones, which sparked opposition from some auto makers.  Schmitt says he expects lawmakers will debate allowing E-15 sales during next year's legislative session.

"The very sole and limited question before us was whether or not they could, by rule, change the law," Schmitt said.  "If this is what the state of Missouri wants to pursue, and it could be (a) very worthy endeavor, the legislature just needs to give their thumbs-up to it, not some unelected bureaucrats deciding that this is what we should do."

The committee vote was 6 to 2 in favor of not allowing the rule change sought by the Nixon Administration.  Those voting "yes" (to reject changing the ethanol rule) were Schmitt, along with State Senators Bob Dixon (R, Springfield), Paul LeVota (D, Independence), Scott Sifton (D, Affton), and State Representatives Mike Colona (D, St. Louis) and Eric Burlison (R, Springfield).  The "no" votes (which would have allowed the rule change to move forward) were cast by State Representatives Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City) and Todd Richardson (R, Poplar Bluff).

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.