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EPA May Slash Use of Ethanol in Gasoline

Drought creating potential shortages of corn stock.

by on Oct.12, 2012

The EPA may shift corn away from ethanol use to reduce demand on drought-impacted farms.

Only months ago, the EPA was pressing hard to expand the use of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply, but in the wake of this summer’s fierce drought, the agency may soon reverse course and actually trim back because of shortages of corn used to produce the renewable fuel.

Senator Orrin Hatch, an influential Utah Republic this week urged the EPA to curb ethanol requirements, as have 200 members of the House and the governors of eight corn-producing states. Under a 2007 law signed by former President George Bush, 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol would need to be used this year, with the plan to more than double that by 2022.

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But the viability of that plan came under sharp inspection when, yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast a sharp decline in farm grain output predicting next year’s global corn stockpiles will 5.4% – to the lowest levels in 39 years.  The USDA warned that only 23% of American corn crop yields are in “good” or “excellent” shape compared with 70% last year.


EPA Approves Even Broader Use of Ethanol

Feds say increased alcohol content safe for older cars.

by on Jan.21, 2011

The EPA opens up a beaker of, er, worms with its mandate calling for expanded use of ethanol.

Following up on a controversial decision, last October, requiring the increased use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline by relatively new cars, trucks and crossovers, the Environmental Protection Agency has expanded that ruling to include models dating back to 2001.

The move is expected to generate even more opposition – and potential legal efforts to block the decision.  If allowed the stand, roughly two-thirds of all cars on the road will soon be using E15, rather than older E10 fuel.

The EPA’s announcement, last October, took a Solomon-like stand, calling for the switch to E15 – which is made up of 15% alcohol and 85% gasoline – for cars produced since 2007.  The agency delayed a decision on older models pending further studies to see if the higher ethanol content might result in damage to fuel tanks, fuel lines or engines.  After determining E15 was safe, EPA regulators decided to expand its use for models produced as far back as 2001.

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But the debate is certain to continue.  In December, a coalition of automakers signed on to participate in a lawsuit aimed at blocking the switch to E15.  Along with marine engine and power tool makers, they contend that the increased level of alcohol, a corrosive, may damage older vehicles not intentionally modified for its use.