BY BILL GOODNIGHT
The “ethanol industry” (mostly prospering corn farmers) has successfully lobbied the EPA to issue a final rule approving the use of gasoline diluted with 15% ethanol (E15).
EPA recognized this fuel will seriously damage vehicles manufactured prior to 2001 and small engines used in boats, motorcycles, chain saws and snowmobiles. They will therefore require pump labels listing those vehicles in which E15 can be safely used and warning of the consequences of using it in other vehicles and gasoline powered equipment.
However, the EPA rejected petitions to require continued sale of fuel with no ethanol (E0) or only ten percent ethanol (E10). Groups representing vehicles using unapproved engines argued that E10 and non-ethanol fuels will disappear and leave owners of pre-2001 vehicles and small engines at risk of damaging their engines. Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware).
With federal blending subsidies, ethanol is considerably cheaper than gasoline which allows distributors to water down their product at considerable savings per gallon. Of course we will not see a reduction in pump prices with the move to E15. It will simply allow a greater price margin for dealers and will mean the demise of E10.
So how will this affect Idaho motorists and recreationists? According to the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles 2010 data, more than half of the registered vehicles in Idaho were manufactured before 2001.
You don’t need such data to realize the thousands of boat, ATV, snowmobile, chain saw, lawn mower and other equipment owners which may be left without safe fuel for their equipment.
PS: Oh yes, since ethanol only contains 66% of the energy of pure gasoline, E10 provides 3.4% poorer gas mileage. E15 will provide 5.1% poorer mileage.
EDITOR NOTE–A pretty good discussion of ethanol on WIKIPEDIA.
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