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Out in the middle of the country, Iowa, to be specific, most of the gas
stations sell either 87 octane gasoline or 89 octane gasoline, ethanol
blend. This has been the case for at least the past ten years. My
experience with the ethanol blends has been entirely positive. My
family currently drives 4 different Audis, and 4 VW Vanagons. There has
never been a mechanical problem due to the fuel in any of our vehicles,
and if there is a mileage difference, it is very small.
The adoption of ethanol vs MTBE is really a political problem, not a
scientific decision. The big oil companies don't like the idea of
buying 10% of their volume from someone else to blend with their
product, and would rather come up with something of their own. In the
case of MTBE, the public will be stuck with the pollution problems
caused by unforseen characteristics of MTBE. Ethanol sources and
production have not given us this kind of problem. Indeed, the
agricultural sector of this country constantly looks for markets for its
products due to a problem with excess production capacity. We can
produce all the ethanol needed for oxygenated fuels at competetive
costs, and would all benefit from the use of ethanol instead of MTBE or
some certain other alternative products.
Having said this, I should also state that I am an Iowa farmer, and have
an economic interest in this issue.