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Allowing E15 fuel year-round won’t increase sales very much, but it’s a symbolic victory for corn ethanol advocates

 

s part of efforts to dampen high gasoline prices, the Biden administration is temporarily allowing gas stations to sell a special fuel blend called E15, containing 15% ethanol, year-round. Under the Clean Air Act, E15 cannot be sold in summer because it evaporates more readily in warm weather and can worsen air pollution. Aaron Smith, professor of agricultural economics at the University of California, Davis, explains how E15 differs from the E10 that is blended into most gasoline sold nationwide, and the general environmental impacts of corn-based ethanol.

What is E15 and where is it used?

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, has long been a potential alternative to gasoline. Henry Ford advocated for it in the 1920s, but it wasn’t used much until the early 2000s because it was too expensive. More than 93% of the ethanol currently made in the U.S. comes from corn.

In 2007, amid concerns about high gas prices, energy security and climate change, Congress passed a law creating a Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires transportation fuels sold in the U.S. each year to contain certain quantities of biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel. Under this policy, more than 95% of all gasoline sold in the United States is E10 – a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol.

E15 contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. It is currently available in about 2,300 of the 145,000 gas stations in the United States, mainly in Midwestern states where most corn is grown and processed into ethanol.

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Published on 12/19/2022 (93 days ago) Ethanol Containing Fuel