MN ag chief expects little from ethanol decision

(reported by BusinessWeek)

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson doesn’t expect much immediate benefit for the state from the federal government’s decision to allow higher ethanol fuel blends for newer vehicles.

Hugoson calls last Wednesday’s decision to allow up to 15 percent ethanol for cars and small trucks made since 2007 “a step in the right direction.”

But he’s concerned the split decision and warning labels at the pumps against putting the fuel in older vehicles could confuse consumers by giving them a false impression there’s something wrong with ethanol.

And he doubts many retailers will install new pumps to handle E15 because only 15 to 20 percent of Minnesota cars will be new enough to use it.

Minnesota is one of the top ethanol producers in the country. The state mandates that all gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol.

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Our Take:
Here again EPA continues its history of arbitrary decisions that lack scientific foundation, and they do so to the detriment of America’s energy goals. Just as the decision to limit ethanol as a gasoline additive to ten percent of the volume of regular gasoline had no scientific basis, the line drawn by the EPA at 2007 vehicle models has no basis. There is no significant change in fuel system equipment between 2006 and 2007. The upgrades to materials in the fuel lines that allow safe blending upwards of 20 percent occurred years ago.

These arbitrary cutoffs will serve no purpose, and only create confusion for the consumer.

We know that EPA will soon approve E15 for vehicles 2001 and later, but even that is not good enough. Even this decision to set the earliest boundary for E15 use at 2001 vehicle models has nothing to do with actual vehicle performance–instead, as an EPA official said to us off the record, it has to do with the difficulty of finding model year 2000 and earlier light duty vehicles with low or no mileage and in good running order, so that they may be subjected to the testing regimen that EPA has developed for E15.

We are quite certain EPA will be unable to justify not approving E15 for older vehicles, because tens of thousands of legacy conventional-engine vehicles run on E24 in Brazil–the blend considered regular unleaded gasoline in that country for most of this decade).

We hope elected officials and the general public can bring enough pressure to bear on the EPA bureaucracy to remove this arbitrary limitation to vehicles built in 2001 and after. Do we really need the confusion these arbitrary cutoffs create, just because there isn’t a museum filled with mint Ford Pintos and AMC Gremlins, with no miles and in perfect working order?

It’s time for EPA to stop working for the oil companies and the OPEC regimes and start working for the American public and its right to energy independence.
Brazil did it. So can we.


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