EPA raises amount of ethanol in fuel blend for newer cars

Published 12:27 pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

GLENVILLE — Poet Biorefining embraced an “important first step” when the Environmental Protection Agency decided to raise the blend wall from E10 to E15 for 2007 and newer vehicles, in response to Growth Energy’s Green Jobs petition. However, ethanol supporters said much more must be done to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the United States and improve our environment.

This decision will apply to more than 42 million vehicles — about 20 percent of the current fleet of passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S., all 2007 and newer. In November, after engine testing on those models is completed, EPA is expected to decide whether to approve E15 for vehicles 2001 to 2006. Approval of those 86 million cars and trucks would mean that E15 would be allowed in more than half of the total passenger cars and light-duty trucks on the road today.

The existing E10 standard — which permits up to 10 percent ethanol blended into fuel — was set in the 1970s to help spur the growth of a domestic, renewable fuels industry in answer to America’s first major oil crisis, engineered by OPEC. In March 2009, Growth Energy, the coalition of ethanol supporters, filed a petition with EPA to permit the raising of that regulatory cap on the ethanol blend from 10 percent to 15 percent.

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The higher ethanol blends has received strong support in Minnesota from a diverse group of farm and business organizations and the state Department of Agriculture. For the state’s ethanol industry, the decision means more consumer demand and more ethanol sales. According to a report released last year by Growth Energy, completed by the Windmill Group, in consultation with researchers from North Dakota State University, E15 approval for all vehicles could create 3,095 full time jobs and inject $586 million into Minnesota’s economy.

“Today’s approval of E15 for newer vehicles is a good first step for Minnesota ethanol producers and all Americans but more can be done. Increasing the amount of ethanol blended in our fuel is a step we can take today to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in Minnesota and improve our environment. We encourage the EPA to follow today’s announcement with the approval of E15 for all vehicles” said Rick Mummert general manager of the Glennville plant.