EPA allows 15% ethanol in “gasoline”

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its long awaited ruling on the amount of ethanol allowed in “gasoline”.  Currently, the ethanol limit is 10%, but, as of yesterday, that limit has been raised to 15%.

How did we get here?  Well, in March, 2009, ethanol producers due to an oversupply of ethanol asked the EPA to raise the limit to 15%.

An oversupply of ethanol has prompted a wave of bankruptcies and made the ethanol industry eager to expand its market. Ethanol producers are being squeezed as corn prices stay relatively high and as ethanol prices stay relatively low. Todd Alexander, a partner at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, estimates that some ethanol producers are losing up to 10 cents on every gallon of ethanol.

There was massive push back to the request from all automobile manufacturers, including GM, because ethanol dissolves some gaskets and rubbers within the fuel system, and can generally foul up your carburetor.  Auto manufacturers, along with the manufacturers of virtually any other internal combustion engine, from boat engines to leaf blowers, were concerned that they would be left holding the bag for expensive repairs should you be lucky enough to own one of these machines that is still under warranty.

But, the EPA’s investigation of “big ethanol’s” request was complicated by none other than Congress.

 Congress required fuel refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels, mostly ethanol, into auto fuel by 2022.

And, the EPA came to the conclusion that there was no way this requirement could be met unless “gasoline” contained 15% ethanol.

So, here is where we stand.  E15 is now allowed for any automobiles with a model year of 2007 or later.  Any vehicles older than that will still have to use E10 due to the potential damage to their fuel systems.  And, how this will be implemented is anyone’s guess.  Will a new pump suddenly materialize at every gas station pumping only E-15?  And, if it did, why would anyone use E-15 given the reduced miles per gallon from E-15 compared to E-10?

Here’s one way to look at this last question

A car that gets 25 miles per gallon on gasoline would get 24.1 mpg on E-10, and 23.7 on E-15.

I’m still having trouble reconciling the EPA’s rulings about ethanol (and the resulting lowering of mpg), with the Department of Transportation’s CAFE regulations requiring that by 2016 a manufacturer’s combined fleet average for all new cars and trucks must be 35 mpg, a significant increase in mpg from where we are today.

But, maybe that’s just me.

7 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    For crying out loud!  Couldn't they just make some beer and wine with that ethanol?


    Once again, the incomparable incompetence of the Democrats is leading to more costs to the American people.  All of us with older cars will have serious issues with this fuel, and even new cars have gas storage issues as well as reduced efficiency.  Why don't they just make a regular blend of real gasoline for the people that want or need it?  Oh yeah, I forgot: gas mileage takes a hit.


    SOS makes an excellent point when she remarks about the conundrum of demanding increased efficiency from auto makers while pulling the rug out from under them with inefficient gasohol.


    As Dean Vernon Wormer once said to Flounder (and should say to Congress), "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

  2. winnie888
    winnie888 says:

    WHAT?  Does congress even LOOK at existing legislation so they don't pass contradictory new legislation?

    Well, if the increase in ethanol eats away at older engines maybe Obama will get his wish and people will begin to grab the Volt faster than ever!  hahahahaaaaaaaa!


    By the way, my Ford Taurus is a flex-fuel car.  Does that mean I'm safe?

  3. johnboy111
    johnboy111 says:

    something no one realizes that all small engines[weed wackers etc.] burn their valve up on this stuff..so all landscapers are being killed by this//we already have to buy "super" for our small engines now[cheaper grades burn hotter] this is stupid as usual?????

  4. johnboy111
    johnboy111 says:

    more corn for fuel???let's check out meat prices next year????wait bovine gas is causing 'global warming'  I GET IT NOW…

  5. Mark
    Mark says:

    I guess I'm switching over to an electric or propane powered weed whacker….


    I wish there's was black market dealer in pure gasoline….

  6. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Gasohol reminds me of the last "wonder additive" for oxygenating fuel: MTBE.  It was a great oxygenator, but it only takes a few parts per billion of the stuff (about 4 drops in an Olympic size swimming pool) to produce an offensive taste and smell in drinking water, sort of like turpentine, so a leaking fuel tank could, and did, poison many aquifers, such as in San Diego.


    Why is it that the government "cures" are continually worse than the disease?

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