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More corn in your gas tank: more controversy over ethanol

By dcuff
Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 11:50 am in fuel.

You may have more corn power in your gas tank soon. The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is approving use of gasoline with up to  15 percent ethanol in car and light truck models from 2001 to 2006. In October, the agency approved the 15 percent ethanol gasoline  – up from 10 percent – for newer models.

Congress sees ethanol as a way to reduce reliance on foreign oil. Corn growers, of course, are happy with that. But some environmentalists say they worry more ethanol use will increase smog, reduce gas mileage, raise the price of corn for human and livestock food, and consume a lot of land. Read an AP story about the EPA decision.

Some people also worry that drivers of older model vehicles will find it confusing to find the right gas pump with the right fuel at service stations. Plus, the fuel with the higher ethanol content, called E15, is not suitable for gas lawn mowers.

Read a Popular Mechanics article here about how the higher ethanol content fuel may affect car engines. Most fuel sold at the pumps in this country now is about 10 percent ethanol, the article states. Ethanol, you may remember, was added to gasoline as a replacement for MTBE, which turned out to cause widespread groundwwater pollution that fouled drinking water and created a cleanup nightmare.

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