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More corn in your gas tank?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says gas stations can now sell gasoline blended with 15% ethanol for all cars built in 2001 or after. Right now, when you fill up in Michigan, your gasoline has 10% ethanol.

The EPA says E15 gasoline will help reduce our need for foreign oil. Ethanol is made from plants like corn. The EPA only tested the effects of E15 on emissions and catalytic converters.

But ethanol is corrosive. Patrick Kelly is with the American Petroleum Institute.

He says E15 might do some harmful things, like corrode rubber parts, or make your check engine light go on for no reason. And it could end up in the wrong gas tanks, even though the EPA will require labeling.

“I mean some people still put diesel into a gasoline car, so even a very clear label may not be adequate to stop all misfueling.”

Big oil companies like Shell and Marathon plan to wait for all the research on E15 to come in before they start producing it.

And by the way, E15 also lowers your gas mileage by about five percent. So it could have been bad timing to introduce it when gas prices are so high.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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