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E15: A new choice at the pump

Ethanol pump
Several Iowa gas retailers, including Casey's, Kum & Go and Kwik Star, are adding E15 to their fuel line-up. E15, a mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, costs less at the pump and can be used in all 2001 and newer vehicles.

If you’re planning a summer road trip this summer, then you are probably watching fuel prices to keep travel costs within your budget.

E15 is a new fuel option made of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum. It’s typically priced less than both regular gasoline and E10, the common 10 percent ethanol blend you see at gas stations here in Iowa. E15 is approved for all 2001 and newer vehicles.

This spring, fuel retailers Casey’s and Kwik Star announced plans to install E15 pumps at several of their stores in Iowa. Des Moines-based retailer Kum & Go also has added E15 pumps to stations in the Des Moines, Sioux City, Mason City and Omaha areas.

However, drivers looking to fuel up with E15 this summer may be surprised to see stickers on the pumps cautioning that E15 can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles.

Due to an outdated federal law, the stickers are required only during the summer months, between June 1 to Sept. 15, explains the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. After Sept. 15, the stickers are removed, and E15 is once again approved for non-flex-fuel vehicles 2001 and newer.

The summertime E15 gap results from regulations limiting the amount of evaporative emissions from vehicle fuel. In 1990, a waiver was extended to fuels containing zero to 10 percent ethanol, but not to E15, which wasn’t on the market yet.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is reviewing a potential change to the regulation. Iowa Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst have also pushed for a change in regulation.

In the meantime, consumers have recently surpassed over 1 billion miles driven on E15, and it is now available in over 800 retail sites in 29 states.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Assoc­iation (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said it is encouraging to see so many retailers adopting E15.

“This time last year, Iowa had less than a third of the 124 E15 stations we have today,” Shaw said. “Fuel retailers are responding to consumer demand for these affordable, superior fuels.”

To find an E15 station near you, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s website at http://iowarfa.org/ethanol-center/e15/.



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