EPA approves more ethanol in gas - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

EPA approves more ethanol in gas

WASHINGTON (KWWL) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced approval of higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline for newer vehicles on Wednesday.

The decision approves up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) for vehicles manufactured since 2007. The current maximum is 10 percent.

The EPA has said a congressional mandate for increased ethanol use can't be achieved without allowing higher blends. Congress has required refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels, mostly ethanol, into auto fuel by 2022.

The EPA is expected to make a decision on E15 in vehicles 2001 and newer by the end of the year.

Ethanol faces strong opposition from the auto industry, environmentalists, cattle ranchers, food companies and a broad coalition of other groups.

Several Iowa legislators issued statements in support of the announcement and its potential impact on Iowa. But, they also criticized the limited scope and the length of time it took to make the decision. According to Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa is the nation's largest ethanol producer with 40 active ethanol plants.

"While this decision is good news and a step in the right direction, it actually does very little to increase ethanol demand or usage," Northey said in a written statement. "Until E15 is approved for more vehicles it is unlikely that it will be available as widespread as it should. I believe the science is there to approve E15 for more vehicles and I hope EPA moves forward with that decision quickly."

"I thank the EPA for responding to the need to break through the blend wall and help Iowa create new jobs in the ethanol industry as we meet our goal of doubling the number of green collar jobs in the next four years and become the nation's renewable energy capital," Gov. Chet Culver said. "This step is the first of many, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of Iowa's farmers and renewable energy workers for higher ethanol blends and greater use of ethanol nationwide."

"It is important that we continue our effort to promote biofuels and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. This is an effort that is good for the environment and for our nation's energy security and one that will grow our economy while creating good, ‘green' jobs in Iowa and across the county," said Sen. Tom Harkin. "Today's announcement is a welcome step in this effort – one that has been a long time coming – and I am pleased that EPA and DOE have moved forward and approved E15 for 2007 and newer vehicles."

 "While I'm glad to see that at long last the EPA has finally made a decision, I am frustrated that the EPA is approving E15 only for vehicles that are model year 2007 and newer. The fact is, that covers only about 20 percent of vehicles on the road today," Sen. Chuck Grassley said. "The gains, while useful to the industry, are small in comparison to a full and complete waiver for E15 use in all vehicles."

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