The Buffalo News: Car Coach: Ethanol-Blended Gasoline Can Damage Your Car

January 7, 2013

Dear Car Coach: A friend of mine was telling me about E15 gasoline and then he saw you on a national news show talking about it but couldn’t remember all the details. Can you clarify this? – W.L., Amherst

Dear W.L.: Here is what the news story was about and how it affects drivers. You may not even notice the sticker at the gas pump, but next to each pump is a square sticker stating E10, E85 or E15. E85, E15 or E10 tells you the percentage of ethanol blended in your gasoline. Note E85 is for “Flex-Fuel” vehicles only.

Ethanol is a corn derivative that now comprises 10 percent of the gasoline at most filling stations throughout the United States. Called E10, its main function is to reduce the amount of foreign oil we consume and produce fewer emissions. While this sounds great in theory, some evidence has shown that ethanol-blended gasoline can be harmful for various reasons, and now the EPA has approved as much as 15 percent, a 50 percent increase, of our gasoline be laden with it.

The EPA needs to recognize that no substantial testing has been conducted to determine the long-term effects of 15 percent ethanol-blended gasoline, or E15, and that further analysis and assessment are required before caving to the pressure of ethanol special interests.

Here’s why:

Tests have shown that fuel efficiency drops with all ethanol as it has 30 to 35 percent less energy density than regular unleaded gas. This will force drivers to buy more fossil fuel and can increase our dependency on foreign oil, not to mention cause cars to produce more emissions. 

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