The chairman of the agriculture committee in the U.S. House of Representatives wants to mandate that the ethanol blends in gasoline be raised from the current 10 percent to 15 percent. Collin Peterson (D-MN) comes from a state that grows a lot of corn and produces a lot of ethanol. Minnesota already has more E85 stations than any other state. However, the uneven availability of E85 in other parts of the country means that retail demand for E85 has not kept up with increase in production resulting in falling prices. Peterson would like to compensate by blending more ethanol into the gas supply. The problem is that might encourage the continued expansion of corn ethanol production which has plenty of acknowledged issues. While increasing the concentration of ethanol in gasoline would get around the problem of distribution of E85, it also has problems of its own. The alcohol can absorb water separate from the gasoline in the station storage tanks. This could result in corrosion in the tanks or damage to cars that are not flex fuel capable but get pumped full of concentrated ethanol.

[Source: Reuters]


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