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EPA Expands Ethanol Use

by Jeffrey W. Johnson
October 18, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 42

Credit: shutterStock
EPA’s decision could mean more U.S. corn going to ethanol production.
Credit: shutterStock
EPA’s decision could mean more U.S. corn going to ethanol production.

Model year 2007 and newer vehicles will now be allowed to burn gasoline containing 15% ethanol, EPA announced last week, granting a request by ethanol producers to raise the current 10% cap on ethanol blended in gasoline. EPA determined that higher ethanol levels would not increase air pollution or damage engines, said Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation. EPA will decide later this year whether to add vehicles made between 2001 and 2006, McCarthy said, on the basis of studies under way at the Department of Energy. The expansion could have limited impact because it will require a new gasoline-labeling system, an education campaign to warn drivers of older cars not to use the gasoline, and a new system of dedicated tanks and pumps for retailers selling the new blend. EPA estimates that about one-third of U.S. gasoline consumption is by vehicles from 2007 and newer. The decision gained some support from renewable fuel companies, but in statements they said they wanted the new level to cover all vehicles, noting that they had already reached the 10% cap with current ethanol production. EPA’s decision is opposed by environmental groups, oil companies, automakers, and others that say it will damage vehicles and harm the environment.


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