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EPA Enters Fight on Ethanol Levels in Gasoline

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There has been some major conflict lately between automakers and petroleum companies against the Environmental Protection Agency, particularly over policies like CAFE regulations (which force automakers to achieve a certain average fleet-wide mpg figure that rises every year). Now, though, the EPA is under fire in a fight over yet another policy: required ethanol fuel volumes.

As some may know already, our gasoline is not pure petroleum—all normal gasoline currently contains some quantities of ethanol, with most gas stations using “E10” fuel, or a blend of 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline.

Ethanol, by the way, is a “biofuel” made from plants like corn or sugarcane, which makes it a renewable resource. Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which was enacted by Congress back in 2007, the national fuel supply has to be blended with specific amounts of ethanol.

The EPA has announced that it wants to boost the amount of ethanol and other biofuels in our fuel supply by about 1.2 billion gallons from 2016 to 2017, rising to a total of 19.2 billion gallons. This is higher even than a proposal by the EPA back in the spring.

Of course, ethanol producers would be ecstatic, but opponents of the plan are, simply put, not happy. There is even a bill circulating the House of Representatives called the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act of 2016 which would cap the amount of ethanol at 9.7% of the total fuel supply. The proposed levels of ethanol would make up more than 10%.

Currently, E85 (or a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) is available at some gas stations for those vehicles which are specially outfitted to handle the fuel, but the technology is not all that popular.

By increasing these levels, the EPA hopes there will be a boost in flex-fuel vehicles and “blender pumps” which allow drivers to select specific amounts of ethanol to add to their fuel.

News Source: Green Car Reports