EPA approves gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol for most vehicles.

The federal government has taken a step toward wide distribution of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol by allowing the biofuel’s manufacturers to register as suppliers.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency is allowing the registration, E15 proponents still must persuade petroleum marketers to sell it at gas stations.

Most ethanol fuel sold today is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, which will still be offered. The E15 blend would only be sold for use in 2001-model-year and newer vehicles.

The 20 ethanol makers that have registered so far include large corn ethanol manufacturers such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.

The Renewable Fuels Association, an industry trade group, said that the EPA’s move is the most significant in a three-year effort to get E15 approved and that Midwestern states could see E15 for sale this summer. Kansas, Iowa and Illinois have been targeted to be the first to offer E15 because of their ethanol-friendly regulations.

“Our nation needs E15 to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It will keep gas prices down at the pump and help to end the extreme fluctuations in gas prices caused by our reliance on fuel from unstable parts of the world,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, another ethanol industry trade group.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and auto manufacturers have mounted legal challenges to the government’s efforts to offer E15. Charles Drevna, president of the petrochemical group, said that with a lawsuit pending the EPA should not rush E15 to market.

Drevna also said hasty introduction of E15 could damage vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment. Many opponents worry that although E15 hasn’t been approved for older vehicles, boats, lawnmowers and other small engines, people may mistakenly use it in them.

The ethanol industry said enough testing had been done to ensure that E15 can be safely used in the vehicles approved by EPA and that plans will be in place to prevent misfueling in other vehicles and equipment.

A few Kansas fuel retailers have said they intend to sell E15, including the owner of two Zarco 66 stations in Olathe. The fuel may not be available in Missouri until next year, since a law that limits gasoline blends sold in the state to no more than 10 percent ethanol has to be changed.

The Star’s Steve Everly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

source: kansascity

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