Thursday March 17, 2011 | 08:21 AM

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency may be getting an earful from Mainers upset about ethanol-blended fuel damaging their snowmobiles, boats or older model cares, courtesy of Sen. Susan Collins.

The Maine Republican told EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Wednesday during a Senate hearing that many Mainers are letting Collins know that ethanol-blended fuel that only has been approved for newer model vehicles is being accidentally put into the wrong engines. The problem is the ethanol-blended gas often is not “segregated” properly at gas stations, leading to mistakes in fueling, Collins said.
 
It’s a big problem in Maine, too, because the state’s residents drive a lot of older model cars, Collins added.
 
Jackson responded, essentially, that while the EPA had signed off on using ethanol-blended “E-15” fuel for new model vehicles, it really wasn’t the EPA’s job to oversee how it was distributed at gas stations or that there was a system for helping prevent mistakes in fueling.
 
Well, said Collins, she would be happy to start sending along emails she receives complaining about the situation straight to Jackson, so the EPA head can explain to Collins’ constituents why their engines are ruined.
 
The exchange took place at a appropriations subcommittee hearing examining the EPA’s 2012 budget request.
 
Also at that hearing, Collins reiterated her concerns about the EPA’s regulation of industrial boiler air pollution standards. Collins is one of a number of senators who complain that the regulations will prove too costly and burdensome to many businesses.
 
In Maine, the regulations as they current stand could result in more than $3 billion in capital costs for the forest products industry alone, Collins said, and more than $11 billion overall for Maine manufacturers.
 
Collins said she is introducing legislation this week to require the federal government to “take into account the impact on small businesses and job growth before imposing new rules and regulations.”
 
The EPA itself had wanted to wait on issuing the final boiler rules, but a federal judge recently ordered the agency to proceed.
 
But the Obama administration has said that its boiler pollution regulations are much less expensive for industry, while still leading to health benefits, than initial regulations proposed last year, according to Bloomberg news.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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