Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

AP sources: US expected to OK more ethanol in gas

AP sources: US expected to OK more ethanol in gas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to approve blending higher concentrations of ethanol into gasoline for newer vehicles, allowing mixtures with up to 15 percent of the corn-based fuel at the gas station pump.
The current maximum blend is 10 percent. The EPA is planning to announce the increase Wednesday for vehicles manufactured since 2007, according to people with knowledge of the announcement. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the decision.
The move, which comes a month before November's elections, is politically popular in rural farm areas. But ethanol faces strong opposition from the auto industry, environmentalists, cattle ranchers, food companies and a broad coalition of other groups.
Opponents argue that the increase in production of corn and its diversion into ethanol is making animal feed more expensive, raising prices at the grocery store and tearing up the land. Manufacturers of smaller engines _ used in everything from lawn mowers to boats _ also oppose increasing the use of the fuel, saying those engines are not designed for the higher concentrations.
The Obama administration continues to support the renewable fuel, and the EPA has said a congressional mandate for increased ethanol use cannot be achieved without allowing higher blends. Congress has required refiners to blend 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) of biofuels, mostly ethanol, into auto fuel by 2022.
The ethanol industry has maintained that there is sufficient evidence to show that a 15 percent ethanol blend in motor fuel will not harm engine performance. They say increased consumption of the renewable fuel creates new jobs and replaces imported oil.
The industry group Growth Energy petitioned the EPA to raise the blend earlier this year. The decision was initially expected in December but was delayed twice as the agency and the Energy Department completed additional testing. The agency is expected to make a second decision on the ethanol concentration allowed in cars manufactured between 2001 and 2007 after more testing is completed at the end of November.
The decision could cause confusion at service stations as people would have to consider which pump to use based on the age of their car.
"We're really going to make the consumers a guinea pig here," said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group that opposes increases in the fuel. "Have we really thought through what it's going to take to distinguish E15 to E10?"
The Obama administration's decision to boost the ethanol concentration in gasoline is a victory for the industry as it struggles to hold on to other subsidies. An increased public skepticism of the renewable fuel has caused some lawmakers who have always championed ethanol to divert the money to other priorities. A key tax credit is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, and some in Congress are considering cutting it or doing away with it altogether.