If you haven't heard about all the efforts to increase the base blend of ethanol into gasoline from 10% to 15%, well, where have you been? It's a burning issue facing the ethanol industry, which directly affects anyone growing corn.

Without raising the blend level, experts agree that the existing E10 and E85 markets are not large enough to comply with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

In short, they claim it's doubtful we'll hit the federal mandate at the current E10 level. The Renewable Fuel Standard calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be used anually by 2022.

HERE ARE A few factoids to support the benefits of raising the blend:

  • Significant research shows that using E15 would not increase auto emissions or harm a vehicle's emissions' control system. Find details at www.GoE15.com.

  • More than 70% of the gas Americans use in vehicles today contains ethanol; and most use a 10% ethanol blend.

  • More than 136,000 new green-collar jobs will be created nationwide by moving to E15, based on a North Dakota State University study.

  • Ethanol production reinvests money in the U.S. economy instead of overseas.

  • Based on 2007 gas consumption, increasing the blend level from E10 to E15 will avoid the importation of another 7 billion gallons of gasoline.

  • E15 would help ensure a market for the emerging cellulosic ethanol industry. If the blend percentage doesn't rise soon, many of the next-generation cellulosic projects run the risk of being cancelled.

  • E15 can be used in the existing infrastructure without damage or safety concerns. Underwriters Laboratories now supports use of 15% blends in pumps, too.

SINCE THE 1970S, the federal government has limited the ethanol content on a gallon of gas to just 10%. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the power to waive that restriction.

A waiver request to raise the blend ceiling to 15% was submitted to EPA, and the comment period ended last month. Now, the final decision on the waiver is expected by Dec. 1. If approved, the E15 allowance would not be a mandate, just the ability to blend 5% more ethanol per gallon.

This magazine is also a big supporter of renewable fuels and we're keeping our fingers crossed that the waiver sails through EPA.

For more details, check out our cover story on “Will EPA Go For E15?” on page 6. Also, don't miss the other stories in subsequent pages that focus on biofuels issues.

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