The federal EPA is expected today to approve a request for refiners to blend more ethanol into gasoline, raising the amount of the corn-based fuel additive from ten to 15%. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley applauds the action as a big boost to Iowa corn and ethanol producers, saying it’s been a very long time coming.
“Ethanol producers filed this waiver petition way back in March of 2009,” Grassley says. “There should’ve been a decision made by December of last year, but it’s been delayed again and again to the chagrin of most Midwestern senators.” Iowa is the nation’s number-one ethanol producer. Grassley says today’s news isn’t all good, as it appears there will be limits set on which vehicles could use the 15-percent ethanol blend, or E-15.
“Even considering the delay, I’m glad to see the decision at long last has come,” Grassley says, “but I’m also afraid the EPA is only going to approve E-15 only for vehicles that are model year 2007 or newer.” Grassley says the way he understands it, people with older cars who pump E-15 could face fines, much as they did years ago when leaded versus unleaded gas brought the creation of catalytic converters.
Several groups oppose making a higher level of ethanol available, claiming it would be bad for the planet or hurt car engines. Grassley says he expects more “demagoguery” now with the prospect of E-15 coming to our pumps. “We’ve got this campaign put on by the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America,” Grassley says. “Now they’ve been joined by big oil and they’ve been joined by various environmental groups to complain and use ethanol as a scapegoat because they want to increase the price of food.”
The federal government has mandated that more renewable fuels like ethanol be used in the coming years. Last year, the requirement was 10.5 billion gallons. Next year, it’ll be 12-billion gallons, and 15-billion by 2015.