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E15 fuel in Missouri prompts debate between corn growers, convenience stores

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Corn growers as well as petroleum and convenience store representatives clashed at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules today as the state weighs changes to the Department of Agriculture that would allow the sale of E15 fuel in Missouri.

Most fuel in the United States is E10, which consists of 90 percent standard petroleum and 10 percent ethanol.

E15 consists of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum. The 2008 Missouri Renewable Fuel Standard Act made E10 the standard in the state.

Logo from ethanolproducer.com.
Logo from ethanolproducer.com.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture recently passed a rule that would allow, but not mandate, the sale of E15 gas in Missouri. JCAR reviewed the rule, under their purview to approve or block departmental rule changes, at a packed hearing which featured several dozen E15 supporters wearing matching buttons, as well as representatives from the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) and the Missouri Petroleum Council (MPC) testifying in opposition.

“I want it to be clear that neither myself nor our Association is opposed to ethanol,” MPCA Executive Director Ronald Leone says during today’s hearing. “Our concern is that this new fuel standard is being adopted without the appropriate legislative channels and could have wide ranging implications.”

Leone says that older vehicles might not be able to run on the E15 fuel and that usage of E15 would nullify certain vehicle warranties, which have not accounted for the new fuel. Leone also says that some filling stations would have to update or modify equipment to supply the E15, the cost of which they simply can not afford.

Countering that was the Corn Growers Association and their members, donning “I want E15” buttons, as well as support from the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA).

Kristy Moore, RFA Vice President of Technical Services, says that the E15 fuel was tested “more than any other fuel to date,” and that concerns about the functionality with older vehicles is “overblown.”

“Eleven other states allow for — and nine other states call for — E15 fuels,” Moore tells the Committee. “And nowhere have we experienced the resistance we’ve faced here in Missouri.”

Moore says that tests funded by the petroleum and auto industry distorted E15’s impact and said that because the rule was optional and not mandating the use of the fuel, most stations that couldn’t afford to offer the new fuel without significant upgrades simply would not.

The final decision on whether or not the rule can take effect was postponed until Wednesday, Oct. 9, so members of the Committee could get clarifying information from the Department of Agriculture. A hearing set for 10 a.m. Wednesday likely will determine if the new rule takes affect, but no new testimony will be heard.