Addressing the false statements around ethanol-blended fuels

As ethanol-related news continues to make headlines, detractors of the homegrown fuel have also once again surfaced, voicing the same old myths and misconceptions that have unfortunately been around for years.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association would like to address the falsehoods surrounding ethanol-blended fuels:

  • Myth: Adding ethanol to gas has no environmental benefits: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ethanol made from corn helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% compared to gasoline. That’s equivalent to removing 11.4 million cars from the road for an entire year. It also reduces emissions of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, known cancer-causing chemicals like benzene, and fine particulate matter which can cause asthma and other health issues. That’s why higher blends of ethanol are recognized as a Clean Air Choice© by the American Lung Association.
  • Myth: Less ethanol production would be good for Minnesota: From the farm to the fuel pump, the ethanol industry is a vital component of Minnesota’s economy. The industry supports more than 20,000 full-time jobs and generates more than $1.7 billion in income for Minnesota households. The majority of Minnesota’s ethanol plants also continue to be locally owned, often by farmers in the area, and provide a number of jobs in rural Minnesota where they are much needed. As Minnesota grows its use of renewable fuels to meet environmental goals, it is improving the economic vitality of outstate communities.
  • Myth: Corn is being used for ethanol when it should be used for food: The variety of corn processed into ethanol is field corn, which unlike sweet corn found in grocery stores, is not fit for human consumption. In addition to ethanol, field corn is used to feed livestock. Today’s farmers also grow more field corn on less acres than ever before; therefore, farmers are able to provide the corn needed to fill our demand for renewable fuels and provide the feed livestock producers depend on.
  • Myth: Ethanol wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t subsidized: Ethanol is not subsidized. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (which was also known as the “blender’s tax credit”) expired in 2011. A state ethanol producer payment program, which applied to ethanol plants, not farmers, ended in 2012. And in 1980, Minnesota reduced the state fuel tax on gasoline that contains at least 10 percent ethanol by 4 cents per gallon, but that credit diminished over time and was phased out completely in 1997.
  • Myth: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a “corn ethanol mandate.” The RFS actually mandates a certain amount of renewable fuels as part of the nation’s fuel supply. Renewable fuels are produced from a multitude of feedstocks that make up the mandated volumes of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The amount of corn ethanol that can make up this volume is actually capped.
  • Myth: Ethanol is bad for my car, I’ll never use it: It’s important to note, ethanol is found in 98 percent of our fuel. You are already putting ethanol in your vehicle by using regular unleaded fuel, or E10. Regular unleaded, or E10, contains 10% ethanol. (Minnesota law requires all gasoline sold in the state to contain 10% ethanol.) Before it was sold to consumers, E15 (fuel containing 15% ethanol) was tested more than 6 million miles with 86 different manufacturers, models and years, making it the most-tested fuel in history without any performance issues. This has led to the conclusion by the EPA, that E15 is safe for all vehicles model year 2001 and newer.
  • Myth: Ethanol is bad for my small engine: E10 has been found to be safe for all ATVs, motorcycles, boats and lawn equipment. Hoon Ge, founder of fuel consulting company Meg Corp, dives into this topic in-depth here.
  • Myth: There is no demand for E15: False. Look no further than our own state, where E15 sales went from 42,000 gallons in 2013 to more than 59 million gallons in 2018, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Retailers who have committed to offering ethanol-blended fuels have also found it to be a very popular option. For example, fuel retailer Minnoco has reported E15 contributed to over 35 percent of overall fuel sales. To date, more than 10 billion miles have been driven on E15, according to Growth Energy.

Learn more about the rise of E15 in Minnesota by 
downloading our free e-book here.

MCGA appreciates advocates of cleaner-burning, renewable, homegrown ethanol-blended fuels and efforts to have respectful conversations with others about the benefits of ethanol. Ultimately, higher ethanol blends like E15 are another great year-round option at the pump for any consumer who is interested in a purchasing a cleaner-burning, higher octane, lower priced fuel.

To find a retailer offering E15 near you or for more FAQs about ethanol-blended fuels, visit MNFuels.com.

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