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The EPA claims that automakers are lying, and that E15 is perfectly safe for engines.  (Source: Hemmings Blog)

The EPA is trying to sneak E15 -- a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gas -- into the pump.  (Source: MPR News)

Corn ethanol gives worse gas mileage and, according to some studies, more air pollution than gasoline. It also raises food prices.  (Source: Dave Reede)
EPA: What could go wrong?

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, testifying to Congress on Wednesday implied that automakers like Ford Motor Company (F) and Toyota Motor Company (TYO:7203) were lying when they said higher ethanol blends could corrode seals, fuel lines, and engine components, voiding warranties.

I. EPA -- We Know Better About These Cars Than the People Who Built Them

The EPA is convinced that it knows about the risks better than the automakers who built and tested the cars.

At issue is the question of whether the EPA can authorize E15 fuel -- a 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline -- mix to be sold at pumps, with special stickers to warn customers.  E10 fuel, which contains a smaller 10 percent fraction of ethanol, is currently mandated by many states.  Approving E15 would clear the way for states to possibly mandate it as the exclusive fuel.

Margo Oge, director of the agency's Office of Transportation and Air Quality office, claims that her researchers conducted "extensive" tests using E15, which showed, "no unusual damage was found compared to control vehicles tested with normal gasoline."

Thus far General Motors Comp. (GM), who produces E85 (85 percent ethanol) capable FlexFuel vehicles, has been the only automaker to voice enthusiasm about the proposal.  The rest of the major U.S. and foreign automakers have complained that E15 could destroy engines in cars produced in 2001 or later.

Essentially, both sides are calling the others a liar in the dispute.

II. Ethanol Opposition is Solidifying

There are signs that opposition to the proposal is mounting in Congress.  Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) blasted the measure, stating it wasn't a "science-based decision".

Overall, while green technologies like cellulosic ethanol seem promising, the case for the U.S.'s current ethanol supply -- corn ethanol -- isn't particularly compelling.  Corn ethanol has been shown to raise food prices and delivers worse gas mileage (ethanol exclusive engines can deliver better mileage, but mixed engines deliver worse performance when burning ethanol).  

Some studies have also shown that it produces more polluting gases, such as nitrogen and sulfur-containing compounds, than gasoline over its life cycle, thus deteriorating air quality.  Similarly, it produces more carbon emissions than gasoline.

Still, farming states have managed to push corn ethanol onto the nation.  The move paid off for a lucky few -- corn farmers grew wealthy the recipient of billions of dollars in subsidies and the politicians they donated to were reelected. 

However, the good times for corn ethanol proponents appear to be coming to an end in the U.S.  Just weeks ago the U.S. Congress repealed the $5.6B USD in incentives for corn ethanol.

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RE: Here's the issue I see
By animekenji on 7/9/2011 7:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but that is wrong. Gas stations currently get at least two grades of fuel delivered. (Sunoco may get 3 including the 94, but I'm not sure about that.) They get 87 and 93 and middle grades are blended from those. If the station runs out of either 87 or 93 then you cannot buy the middle grades, either.

RE: Here's the issue I see
By DerekZ06 on 7/10/2011 8:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
I worked in hyvee gas at one time. They had 4 separate tanks. Diesel, 87 unleaded gas, 89 10% ethanol blend super unleaded gas, and 93 Premium gas.

RE: Here's the issue I see
By RealTheXev on 7/11/2011 10:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
There are a (very) few stations left that get other gas delivered pre-blended to 89 as well (such as the one I work at, we're a weird freak location). The blending only pertains to octane rating, not Ethanol rating.

As for the fuel delivered to the station, we receive E10 according to the BOL's (Bill of Landing) we receive.

The common practice for C-store fueling stations is to have a tank (or a series of perhaps two tanks) with 87 blend, and another tank with 93, then to blend 88-92 octane gas from those (yes, some stations offer that many additional blends).

Some Sunoco stations sell 101 octane as well. I have seen 110 octane for sale at some high end drag race tracks.

Different stations/brads have different systems. If you want to see a great verity of different brands and systems, the greater Orlando area of FL is prob the #1 place I have been.

Also, feel free to ask the owner/operator questions about fuel. Some are very knowledgeable and will answer any questions you might have :)

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