In October, the Trump Administration announced it would instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to adjust regulations to allow the year-round sale of E15, a cleaner-burning, higher-octane gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol.
The move was cause for celebration for rural America, auto enthusiasts, health and environmental advocates, and anyone who wishes to see the end of the oil monopoly.
But why should we limit the amount of American-made ethanol in our gasoline? We could achieve significantly more economic, environmental and national security benefits by continuing to increase ethanol levels in gasoline to make a more engine-friendly, truly high-octane fuel.
A little background: Ethanol already comprises 10 percent of gasoline sold in America (the rest is made from oil). Moreover, modern engines, which increasingly make use of direct-injection, turbocharging, high compression and other advanced engine technologies, could work even better with more ethanol.
While millions of flex-fuel vehicles are already capable of using up to 85% ethanol, a “mid-level” blend, in which ethanol makes up anywhere from 20-50 percent of gasoline, could offer American drivers a high-performing, cheaper, all-American-made fuel for use in any future vehicle.
Recently, Fuel Freedom catalogued the vast body of compelling research on the economic, environmental, performance and efficiency benefits of higher-octane fuels made with higher levels of ethanol (see Appendix B of our official comments on the Trump administration’s fuel economy proposal). We concluded that the use of higher-octane fuels was associated with better performance (torque, acceleration, etc.), reduced emissions, lower fuel costs and better efficiency. These benefits are magnified if ethanol is the source of octane.
Specifically, what would a mid-level ethanol blend fuel mean for you?
- Increased efficiency in your current car or truck
- Potential to save 8-to-16-cents per gallon of gasoline
- Savings of $436 to $873 on the purchase of a new car
Further still, national lab research shows that mid-level ethanol blends cause less corrosion in materials used in engines and fuel systems than E15, meaning that such fuels would have no compatibility issues preventing it from getting approved for and working in existing vehicles.
The benefits of a mid-level ethanol blend extend to the whole country. Greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by nearly one-third. Oil imports could finally be eliminated for good, giving America true energy independence. At the same time, replacing oil imports with ethanol made in America’s heartland will take money out of the hands of foreign oil producers, and transfer it American farmers, fuel producers and consumers. Such a shift would grow our economy and create more jobs.
A lot of people worked hard to make year-round E15 happen. But we need to build on that effort to finally achieve true energy independence.