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Automakers sue over E15, a higher ethanol blend in fuel

Lincolnway Ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa
flickr user - freddthompson
Turning corn into fuel at the Lincolnway ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa

Fuel-makers blend refined gasoline with ethanol to make it burn more cleanly.

Corn-based ethanol has been considered a much better fuel additive since MTBE was found leaking into groundwater supplies (the CBS News magazine 60 Minutes did a report that led to MTBE's downfall as an additive).

But there's been debate on how much ethanol to allow in gas. The accepted standard has been a 10% mix, which is found in most gas across the country.

But corn growers and the ethanol industry have naturally lobbied the government for a higher mix.

And last fall, their lobbying partially paid off. The Obama Administration's EPA upped the allowable amount to 15% for cars made in 2007 and later.

Now, according to the AP, automakers and engine makers are suing the Administration saying the higher mixture could cause engine damage, and because a damaged engine could release more pollution, they say the Administration has violated the Clean Air Act.

No comment from the EPA yet. On the New York Times Green Blog an EPA spokeswoman is quoted: 

"We will review and respond appropriately."

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.