Governor Tom Vilsack’s just as reluctant as key legislators to pursue the idea of erasing state gas taxes if pump prices continue to rise through the summer. Vilsack says his focus has been on trying to get the federal government to investigate why gas prices are rising so high, and Vilsack says he’s glad to see Congress and the Bush Administration starting to ask questions. Vilsack says the other focus should be on promoting renewable fuels like ethanol in order to ensure America’s “energy independence.” Vilsack says he’s a little concerned that some members of Congress are asking that their states get a waiver from the federal oxygenated fuel standard — that’s the federal rule which requires that corn-based ethanol or some other additive be mixed in fuel in order to reduce harmful emissions. Vilsack says he’s willing to explore options for helping consumers who’re facing skyrocketing gas prices, but he says doing away with the state tax on gasoline and diesel isn’t the answer as it would mean the end of the state’s 400-million dollar road budget. Vilsack says it would hurt the economy because road construction jobs would be eliminated. Key legislators like Senate President Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny say they’re willing to explore the gas tax idea but give it little chance of passing the legislature for the reason Vilsack cited.
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