Ethanol backers like 15% ruling, but want more

Minnesota ethanol supporters were happy when the federal government today approved allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline.

Minnesota was the first state to mandate the use of 10 percent ethanol, and has a goal of 20 percent of all gasoline sold in the state to be ethanol. The alternative fuel, now mostly made from corn, is mixed with gasoline for motor vehicle use.

“The strength of our nation is tied to the strength of our energy economy,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. “The U.S. has the ability to be the global leader in energy because of the ingenuity of our farmers and manufacturers. Today’s announcement will help our country utilize more homegrown biofuels and decrease our dependence on foreign energy, and I will continue to push for a decision to expand the use of E15 to older vehicles as well.”

The Environmental Protection Agency announcement says that E15, as it is called, may safely be used in 2007 model year and newer vehicles. Klobuchar asked that the federal government now allow E15 to be used in cars built since 2001.

National ethanol advocates called the decision a small step toward greater ethanol use. But they questioned how effective it will be and said it could lead to motorist confusion about what fuel to buy.

Twenty-one ethanol plants operate in Minnesota, many owned by corn farmers.

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