By SARAH BROWN
CNA staff reporter
E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline will be available this fall in Creston, according to Darin Schlapia, Farmers’ Cooperative location manager in Creston.
Farmers Cooperative will open an unmanned fuel pump at 304 N. Osage St. as early as mid-August to the general public.
Schlapia said one of the main reasons Farmers Cooperative chose to sell E85 fuel was “to support American jobs.”
“Every gallon of E85 sold is one gallon less that comes from overseas,” said Schlapia.”Being a farmers’ cooperative, we try to add value to our customer’s commodities. We are just helping out the industry by handling E85.”
According to Schlapia, Magellan Midstream Partners, which owns the pipeline supplying fuel to Iowa, announced in January they will no longer be supplying 87 octane gasoline, commonly known as “regular,” after September 15.
“They are going to take the subgrade 84 and add 10 percent ethanol to it to make 87 E10,” said Schlapia. “That will be the cheapest blend available to people.”
This change resulted from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS), which was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in an effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption and lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
There are several key benefits to ethanol-based fuel blends.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, some benefits of ethanol are lower emissions of air pollutants, it is domestically produced, which creates more jobs and it is more resistant to engine knock. Ethanol is approximately 40 cents less per gallon than gasoline, prices fluctuate based on location, corn and petroleum prices.
While E85 and other ethanol blend fuels are better for the environment and domestic economy, E85 can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles and has a limited availability.
According to Schlapia, Missouri passed a state law several years ago that required all gasoline to have ethanol in it.
“They are also not required to label their pumps,” said Schlapia. “So they are getting ethanol and not even knowing it.”
One disadvantage of E85 is the blend is for flex-fuel vehicles only. According to the EPA website, E10 (currently available at most Iowa gas stations) can be used in any vehicle that would otherwise take 87 (regular) gasoline, and last year, the EPA approved vehicles 2001 and newer to use E15.
“They have done extensive testing and have found no adverse effects,” said Schlapia. “The reason they didn’t go further back than 2001, is because those vehicles are getting old enough ... the engines are in such variable shape.”
Schlapia said some farmers are concerned the ethanol industry will drive up farming input costs.
“Before ethanol, we had $1.50 a bushel of corn and all the inputs were cheaper,” said Schalpia. “Seed, chemicals, fertilizers, land was cheaper. Look up what the land has done in the last 10 years since ethanol. Ethanol has been around us for long before that, but it has just exploded.”
Currently, there are seven stations selling E85 in or near Southwest Iowa: Corning, Clearfield, Lamoni, Winterset, Stanton, New Market and Messena.
While E85 can only serve a fraction of the cars on the road, Schlapia said other vehicles will be able to use E15 or E10.
According to Schlapia, area gas stations will no longer carry 87 octane gasoline beginning Sept. 15, in an effort to comply with the federal mandate.
At Farmers Cooperative pumps on Osage Street, consumers can expect a four-hose gas pump, which will distribute a range of ethanol-blend fuels.
“We will have one tank of E85, one tank of 87 E10,” said Schlapia. “Our blender pump will take a little bit of 87 E10 and mix a little E85 with it to come up with an E15.”
Schlapia said Farmers Cooperative will also offer E30 and soy diesel.
“Our customers raise corn, and we think they will support it,” said Schlapia. “Some said they have traveled quite a distance to get E85, so maybe they’ll start burning it since it will be right here in Creston.”
For more information on E85, visit www.epa.gov.