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National displays its ignorance about ethanol

Wednesday, 10 September 2003 Media Statement

National displays its ignorance about ethanol-blended petrol

National Party efforts to disparage the introduction to New Zealand of ethanol-blended petrol are shabby and inaccurate, says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson.

"National energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says he is unaware of any work being done in New Zealand to identify which vehicles can run on ethanol-blended petrol. Fortunately his ignorance is not shared by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, which has been working with the motor industry for months to compile this information.

"EECA has contacted the majority of Motor Industry Association members individually and is compiling a list of vehicles that will be suitable for using ethanol-petrol blends. This information will be made available to motorists before the fuel goes on sale.

"Oil companies can choose whether to sell ethanol-blended fuel and motorists will be able to choose whether or not they buy it. Pumps that may contain ethanol blends will be clearly labelled. New Zealand regulations ensure consumers are well informed about the fuel and EECA is already working with oil companies on appropriate labelling for pumps and the development of consumer information, which will be available at point of sale and on websites.

"Mr Brownlee is also confused about the environmental benefits of ethanol-blended petrol, which produces lower greenhouse gas emissions. There is a debate overseas as to whether intensively irrigated crops grown specifically for producing ethanol have overall carbon dioxide reduction benefits, but this is irrelevant to New Zealand, where ethanol is a byproduct of the dairy industry.

"Fonterra, New Zealand's major ethanol producer, has suggested that in addition to the environmental benefits, using ethanol as a fuel could provide farmers with better returns than current uses."

Early results of EECA's work on development of information for both consumers and trade have been on www.energywise.org.nz since late August. Details on which vehicles are suitable for the blend will be posted as soon as these have been confirmed with the motor industry.

ENDS

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