The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of E15 (15% ethanol/gas blends) for all vehicles made between 2001 and 2006, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks.
According to data from the car industry the decision — which follows a similar waiver for model years 2007 and newer last October — paves the way for fuel that contains up to 15% ethanol (E15) to be potentially used by 62% of vehicles on the road today.
The approval will undoubtly increase the demand for ethanol. Not good news for livestock producers who oppose an increase in the use of ethanol. Their concerns about higher feed costs have been sharpened by the rise in corn prices from $3.50 per bushel last June to $6.50 this week.
"It's very disappointing that the administration made this decision given the rising price of corn and the lower estimate for this year's corn harvest that recently was announced," said Randy Spronk, a hog and crop farmer from Edgerton, Minn., who serves on the National Pork Producers' board of directors.
But retailers can't sell the new blend until the EPA comes up with a pump label, and agency spokeswoman Catherine Milburn said that is not likely to be ready until April. Even then, retailers have to sort out issues with insurance and other regulations, as well as reconstruct their pumps and tanks.
The EPA is still facing a lawsuit filed late last year by automobile manufacturers, who contend that the expanded blend threatens warranties in their vehicles.
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