Americans Pumping Record Amounts of Ethanol in Their Gasoline

  • Ethanol represented 10.2% of fuel last week, EIA says
  • Petroleum, biofuel lobbies at odds on breaching blend wall

Ethanol is taking a bigger slice of American gas tanks.

Ethanol’s share of the U.S. gasoline market reached a record 10.2 percent last week, a government report showed Wednesday. Biofuel and oil interests have battled for years over whether to breach the double-digit threshold or so-called blend wall.

“This tells us that people are willing to push past 10 percent,” Jason Ward, an analyst at Northstar Commodity Investments LLC in Minneapolis, said by phone.

Petroleum supporters argue that blends of ethanol in excess of 10 percent pose engine risks. The ethanol industry, which opposes that claim, is lobbying for higher concentrations of the fuel to be mixed into gasoline and sold at filling stations.

Five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency approved the sale of E-15, a formula that’s 15 percent ethanol and the rest gasoline, for cars built after 2001. Widespread adoption has been slow and the blend wall is a source of contention about the viability of the U.S. law that sets annual ethanol consumption targets.

Last week’s bump in market share is probably from a seasonal federal restriction on the higher blends that expired Sept. 15, Geoff Cooper, vice president and economist at the Renewable Fuels Association, a Washington-based trade group, said by e-mail.

Thorntons Inc. said earlier this year that it would distribute E-15 at its 43 Chicago-area gas station-convenience stores.

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