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Das legendäre Emserwasser

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Emserwasser, the national substitute fuel

In 1936, Werner Oswald founded Holzverzuckerungs AG (HOVAG) in Ems, Graubünden, to promote the regional economy. The ethanol produced became a sought-after product with the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1941, the federal government concluded a contract guaranteeing HOVAG the purchase of around 100,000 tons of fuel at cost price until the end of 1955. During the war, the so-called Emser Wasser contributed around 30% to covering the needs of motorized transport and the air force.
With the end of the war and the resumption of fuel imports at prices well below HOVAG's production costs, the federal government no longer had any use for the substitute fuels.
CARBURA was therefore obliged to purchase the Ems water and add it to the petrol, which led to higher petrol prices (and import duties). The federal government's contract with HOVAG from 1941 was based on special powers of the Federal Council, which ceased to apply with the end of the war.
An extension of the contract, which expired at the end of 1955, required a public referendum. The “Ems bill” was rejected by the electorate in 1956.

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