SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to rule by the end of September on whether to allow gasoline retailers to increase the maximum amount of ethanol in their gas mixtures from 10 to 15 percent.
Chris Knittel, Associate Professor of Economics at UC Davis, says right now gasoline sold in California contains about 5.7 percent ethanol. But he says “there are laws on the books that are going to require the U.S. to sell more and more ethanol each year.” Corn farmers and ethanol producers are also pushing hard for the change.
Environmental groups, the auto industry, and the oil industry are all opposed to the increase. “This is one of those strange type bedfellow situations,” admits Roland Hwang, transportation program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Hwang said the higher ethanol content gas, named E-15, could wreak havoc on older vehicles. “Older vehicles and any other piece of gas-powered equipment you can think of: lawnmowers, outboard motors, cannot handle E-15 without having pollution problems,” Hwang warns.
The EPA is reportedly considering limiting E-15 for just newer cars, but Hwang said that isn’t a solution, and would lead to confusion at the gas pump. “People misfuel all the time,” he said.
A trade organization for ethanol producers insists the higher ethanol gas is safe for all vehicles.
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