AUGUSTA — The Maine House has given initial approval to bills that would ban the sale of ethanol in Maine or limit its use to a 5 percent blend.

Passage on Tuesday followed brief debates in which supporters said using corn-based ethanol is essentially putting food in fuel tanks. They also said ethanol damages small engines.

Opponents argued that restricting the sale of 10 percent ethanol fuel would put Maine out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.

The first bill, L.D. 115, prohibits the sale of fuel that contains corn-based ethanol if at least two other New England states pass a similar prohibition.

The second bill, L.D. 105, allows a distributor, blender or retail dealer to sell gasoline containing only 5 percent ethanol.

The bills face further House and Senate votes.

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