New EPA decision could impact Iowa farmers, drivers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New EPA decision could impact Iowa farmers, drivers

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The EPA announced Wednesday its approval of a higher concentration of ethanol for cars 2007 and newer.

Those vehicles can now run on fuel containing a 15 percent blend of ethanol, the EPA announced. That's up from the standard E10 blend, which contains up to 10 percent of ethanol.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says Iowa is the nation's top producer of ethanol, so this could mean impacts for farmers.

Innovative Ag Services vice president of grain Rick Becker said some farmers could see more money for their corn.

"I think, long term, it will increase demand for ethanol, which does increase the demand for corn a little bit," Becker said. "Not that it's going to drive corn prices sky-high or anything, but it does help them get a little bit more for their corn, which is certainly a benefit to the producers."

Some, however, have concerns over ethanol lowering gas mileage.

"I think the fuel economy probably does decrease, slightly," Becker said. "I don't know how big of a difference it really makes. It's certainly a good thing to decrease our dependence on oil, so I think, overall, it's a good trade-off."

Dubuque gas station owner Bob Beecher said E10 is his most popular fuel.

"We sell a lot of E10. Whether or not we'll switch to E15, I don't know what the particulars are on that," Beecher said.

"It's not something that's going to happen overnight," Becker said, in regards to the switch from E10 to E15. "Gas stations are going to have to make a lot of changes to handle the E15 ethanol."

"Whether or not it will be in the pipeline and be available to us in the near future, I don't really know," Beecher said. "But we'll just have to wait and see."

In addition to the impact on gas stations and corn growers, Becker also said a potential rise in corn prices could negatively affect the livestock industry. On the other hand, he said, there are bi products from ethanol production that go back into feed at lower costs, so there may be some form of balance.

The EPA is expected to decide by the end of the year whether cars 2001 and newer can handle the E15 blend.

Numbers such as E10 and E15 refer to the percentage of ethanol versus gasoline in a blend of fuel.

Low blends - from five percent to 25 percent - are also called gasohol. E10 has been the most common of those blends.

E85 has the highest concentration of ethanol in the United States and is the standard blend for "flex-fuel" cars.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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