Supporters of Higher-Ethanol Fuels Frustrated
(PressConnects.com) When President Barack Obama moved into the White House in 2009, E15 — a higher blend of ethanol and gasoline than commonly available — was thought to be a sure thing.
But the Environmental Protection Agency took a year to approve the higher blend, then another year to write the rules that will govern sales. Now, three years later, the only drivers who can put more than 10 percent ethanol in their tanks are about 10 million owners whose models can use up to 85 percent ethanol.
Legal and bureaucratic delays mean E15 is still out of reach for consumers, and a potential 7 billion gallon expansion of motor fuel market share remains elusive for ethanol producers.
“The oil companies just don’t want to give up another 5 percent of the market to biofuels,” said President Jeff Laut of ethanol producer Poet of Sioux Falls, Iowa.
…Some service stations that want to use E15 have learned that they can’t pump it because E15 isn’t compatible with the special summer blends of unleaded gasoline sold from May to September. Those blends help big urban centers such as Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Louis comply with clean air regulations. And oil companies sell the same blends to an entire region, even in areas that haven’t had air-quality problems.
… What was a surprise was a drop in national gasoline demand of 2 percent to 3 percent in the first half of the year, attributed to more efficient car engines and an uncertain economy.
“If gasoline demand is down, then demand will be down for ethanol,” said Shaw of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “That has made the inability to sell E15 all the more frustrating.” READ MORE