Recent action by the federal regulators could provide a big boost to the ethanol industry.
Proponents of ethanol have long sought government approval for an increase in the proportion of ethanol in the fuel mix sold to power vehicles. Currently, the fuel sold for this purpose contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. A blend with 15 percent ethanol - known as E15 - could be used by many cars and trucks manufactured in 2001 or later.
This month, the federal government began the process of registering manufacturers interested in marketing E15. According to The Associated Press, 20 ethanol producers have already done so. That list includes industry heavyweights such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Cargill Inc.
This move by the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that its testing of the efficacy of E15 is showing results highly favorable to the new blend. Even so, it will be awhile before E15 will be readily available to consumers. Additional EPA testing and state-level regulatory approvals lie ahead.
That said, however, it now appears highly likely that E15 will be widely marketed in the not too distant future. That's very good news for Iowa's corn producers, ethanol manufacturers and the entire Hawkeye State economy.
The Messenger applauds this exciting development. Federal and state regulators should move the approval process forward expeditiously. More use of ethanol is not only good for our local economy, but also will help move the United States closer to energy independence.