Gov. Paul R. LePage has issued an executive order for state agencies to study the health effects of emissions produced by the combustion of gasoline that contains ethanol, a widely used additive.

In addition, LePage directed all state agencies to implement a purchasing preference for gasoline blended with 5 percent or less of ethanol, provided the cost is comparable to gas blended with a higher concentration of ethanol.

The governor said in a statement Monday that he issued the order because of federal mandates that have spurred increased production and use of ethanol as a fuel additive to combat air pollution.

“It’s important that with the increased use of ethanol-mixed gasoline that we understand the environmental and health risks associated with it,” LePage said. “This Executive Order will help identify data so we can make better informed decisions regarding the use of ethanol.”

The governor directed the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Environmental Protection to review scientific evidence on the health effects of emissions produced by burning gasoline with ethanol and the effect of increasing ethanol blends on emissions.

LePage’s statement did not specify why he sought the study at this time. Adrienne Bennett, his spokeswoman, said the governor was responding to concerns from constituents and legislators about the effects of ethanol.

“It’s a common-sense approach to request more information and that’s essentially what this executive order accomplishes,” she said.

LePage asked the two agencies to submit a report by Jan. 1.

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