I buy gasoline at 76 stations. Nope, it's not the free orange antenna ball. Don't think my Chevy pickup can reach 200 miles per hour on 76 gas because it is the official fuel of NASCAR.

It's because it is the only station I've found where there's a sign on the pumps that reads, “This gasoline may contain ethanol.”

If I have to buy oxygenated fuel to meet federal clean air standards, I want ethanol, not NTBE. Don't want my drinking water polluted. I will pay a few pennies more for fuel with ethanol additive. My pickup seems to run better on it, and buying ethanol gas supports agriculture.

However, I will not pay $3 per gallon for ethanol-oxygenated fuel. Gov. Gray Davis' decision to give California refineries another 12 months to get ready for the day when — or if — California is required to use ethanol for an oxygenate is a good one. The state's department of energy says there is not enough ethanol available to meet the 750- to 900-million-gallon California ethanol requirement. Sorry corn growers, the governor of California has to trust his own people.

And, thank you Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa for being willing to once again mess in California's business. You've shown a strong desire to strangle our agriculture by your onerous payment limitation amendment, and your announcement to introduce federal legislation to force California to use ethanol shows you want to economically destroy the rest of California's economy.

Iowans, especially corn farmers, appreciate your gesture. It will likely go no farther than the payment limitation amendment.

Since California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have rescinded their support of your payment limitation political ruse, I am sure they are no longer on you're “A” guest list for fundraisers.

Therefore, you won't be surprised if they introduce legislation to mandate only California wine be sold in Iowa; only California peaches, plums, nectarines, grapes, raisins, apricots, walnuts, rice, beef, and pasta made with California durum wheat be sold in Iowa supermarkets. Polyester clothing? It should be banned in Iowa, and only U.S. grown cotton products sold in Iowa department stores. (California will concede to allow the rest of the U.S. Cotton Belt into Iowa).

There is nothing better than a corn-fed Iowa steak. However, no Iowan is going to cram that down California's throat no more than they can cram ethanol down the throat of the fifth largest economy in the world just to get rid of a corn surplus.

Ethanol use should increase in the future. It's a renewal resource than could decouple American dependence on foreign oil. However, it must be a free-market commodity.

Gotta go. The fuel gauge is near E, and the orange antenna ball is getting faded. Need a new one. Besides, NASCAR is at the super fast Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Wonder if it's the ethanol that makes those ground rockets reach 200 miles per hour?

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com