E15 may be available all year round after President Donald Trump announced changes Tuesday to the current guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says in a statement that “Year-round E15 will mean 2 billion more bushels of corn will be used right here in America, making South Dakota farmers less dependent on foreign corn buyers.” Senator John Thune praised the announcement outside the White House Tuesday, calling it “a win-win, not just for farm country, but for America.”
To explain what E15 is, we need to show you what other ethanol blends you find at the pump right now.
E85 is one you probably see a lot, but likely can’t use in your car. This is a blend of 85 percent ethanol fuel and 15 percent gasoline. It can only be used by flex-fuel vehicles, and it’s very cheap. If you put ethanol in your car, it’s probably E10. This is a blend of 10 percent ethanol fuel and 90 percent gasoline. It’s still cheaper than regular unleaded.
You could be paying even less at the pump with E15. It’s approved to be used in vehicles made after 2000, but right now E15 is banned in the summer months. And that makes it difficult to find anytime of the year because of supply and demand.
That soon could change, and industry leaders say this could save you up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump.
Keith Alverson grows corn in Lake County, South Dakota. He welcomes the news.
“We’ve been big ethanol promoters, especially in the corn-growing industry, and to have E15 available year-round means that we’re going to be able to move more product,” Alverson said. “In South Dakota, my corn prices are dependent upon ethanol sales, and so to have ethanol have more demand and more availability for consumers year, on a year-round basis is going to be a good thing.”
Lisa Richardson, executive director of South Dakota Corn, says the corn crop this year will be big.
“We produce about 800 million bushels of corn. About 400 million bushels of that is used for ethanol production,” Richardson said. “We have a new plant in Onida coming on, we have a couple plants that have expanded their capacity, and we think there’s opportunity to grind more corn.”
She says Tuesday’s news means a choice.
“All the American ethanol industry is trying to do is compete head-to-head with oil,” Richardson said. “And the consumer’s going to have a choice at the pump, and the consumer’s going to make that choice based upon price. We can compete, we will win that.”
The EPA currently bans E15 during the summer over concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Advocates for the ethanol industry say that’s not true.
The oil industry is against this move as well, warning high-ethanol gasoline can damage car engines and fuel systems. It’s important to note that this isn’t a done deal. There is still more red tape and likely some legal challenges.