Indiana governor vetoes bill requiring ethanol warning label

Gov. Eric Holcomb has vetoed a bill that would require additional labeling for Indiana gas pumps that distribute E15, a fuel blend that contains up to 15% ethanol in gasoline.

The new signage would have encouraged consumers to check their owner’s manual for “compatibility and warranty requirements,” according to the measure vetoed Monday. Fuel dispensers who didn’t post the statement on their pumps could have been charged with a Class A infraction, which carries up to a $10,000 fine.

Holcomb maintained that the Environmental Protection Agency already mandates all E15 pumps to have a label “clearly advising consumers of the possible implications of using the fuel in certain engines.”

The EPA warning says E15 should only be used in flex-fuel vehicles that are 2001 models and newer. It also urges against E15 use for boats and gas-powered equipment.

“I find this additional layer of government unnecessary and confusing,” the Republican governor wrote in his veto letter.

Indiana legislators can override Holcomb’s veto by a simple majority vote in both chambers, with the action potentially taking place during a one-day meeting the legislative leaders could call for May 10.

GOP state Sen. Mark Messmer, who authored the bill, did not immediately comment on the veto. He previously said the measure is intended to protect Hoosiers from putting the wrong fuel in their vehicles.

Ethanol creators from nearly a dozen Indiana ethanol plants disagreed, lobbying the governor to veto the bill in a letter sent to his office earlier this month. They argued the proposal would confuse consumers and “destroy demand for E15 and Indiana corn.”

Tim Phelps, executive director of the Indiana Ethanol Producers Association, praised Holcomb’s veto, noting biofuels like ethanol “are a crucial piece of the Indiana economy.”

“E15 represents a tremendous opportunity for our state,” Phelps said. “It will boost farm incomes, grow grain markets and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

E15 fuel was approved in 2011 by the EPA. Phelps emphasized that Americans have driven billions of miles using the fuel and noted that E15 can be used in any passenger vehicle 2001 and newer.

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