To blend or not to blend: E15 fuel approved for 2 out of 3 cars - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

To blend or not to blend: E15 fuel approved for 2 out of 3 cars

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- As gas prices soar nationwide, relief may be in sight for many drivers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing two out of three cars on the road can safely use E-15 fuel. The EPA believes any car or truck made since 2001 can run effectively on E-15.

The announcement is good news for ethanol producers. But even they admit, there is still work to do before you'll see E-15 pumps popping up at most gas stations. There are concerns about clearly labeling pumps, and drivers using the wrong kind of fuel for their vehicle.

In Eastern Iowa, many gas station owners are making ethanol blends of fuel more accessible for drivers who want to help the environment, or their wallets. After all, filling your tank is costing a lot more lately, and as the total ticks up, some drivers are getting ticked off.

"Usually I can get by for $49 dollars, but that wasn't going to work today!" said Tammy Coffer. "I paid $60...I sat in the car for a couple minutes, kind of mad!"

Fuel frustration is nothing new. Neither is using ethanol to fight climbing oil prices.

"When ethanol came on the scene in the late 1970s, early 80s, people were certainly concerned about it. And there were some speed bumps along the way. But really, what escalated its use, was the price," said Jim Lind, owner of Shell Station in Waterloo.

Both the federal and state government offer a lower tax rate on higher ethanol blends, and the difference can really add up.

"You're looking at anywhere from a nickel to a dime less," said Lind.

That's a nickel or dime, per gallon. And right now, Lind is in the process of turning these potential savings into a reality.

"We're going to have an E-85 renewable fuel island, with three other options that a person could have -- E15, E25, or E40," he explained.

"When are they going to put it in, when does it start? That's my reaction," said Coffer.

Using E15 may seem like a great idea for your credit card. But is it good for your car? Lind said, you might have to weigh out your options.

"No different than we human beings, if you drink too much alcohol, it cleans you out. Could clog filters, clog fuel injectors," he noted. "The newer vehicles, 2001 and newer, that should not be a problem."

Even if your car runs without a problem, you might start to notice a full tank doesn't take you as far when you're filling up with E-15. That's when you'll have to make a decision --

"Am I saving money or not?"

After weighing mileage spent and money saved, for many drivers, choosing E-15 is still easy economics.

"Anyway to save money, I'm game," Coffer added.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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