Supreme Court ruling means higher ethanol blend likely to proliferate

Source: BARRY ADAMS | Wisconsin State Journal • Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

E15 has a green light, and that means more gas stations selling the ethanol fuel are likely on the way for Wisconsin.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s chief lobbying group, to block the sales of E15.

The fuel has 15 percent ethanol, well above the current 10 percent norm sold at most stations, and can be used in most passenger vehicles that run on regular gasoline. E15 is currently sold in just fewer than two dozen stations, all in the Midwest.

For Erik Huschitt, general manager and vice president of operations at Badger State Ethanol in Monroe, the ruling will allow fuel providers to offer options to their customers without fear of investing in infrastructure.

“I applaud the decision,” Huschitt said. “Continuously changing the rules in which we’re all suppose to maneuver is very, very difficult as far as a business goes. People can (now) plan and start making this fuel available.”

Badger State Ethanol added E15 to its station in Platteville in early May, while the company’s Monroe station should have the fuel available by September, Huschitt said.

The Platteville station is currently the only E15 station in the state but in addition to the Monroe station, more will be on the way, said Robert White, director of market development for the Renewable Fuels Association.

“The opportunity is strong for Wisconsin,” White said Monday. “It is a higher-octane, lower-cost fuel that more than 70 percent of all vehicles can use. Once consumers are given the opportunity to purchase it, we have seen them embrace it where it is offered.”

While the EPA says E15 is safe for cars built since 2001, the oil industry had argued in its court case that it was dangerous for older cars.

Putting fuel with up to 15 percent ethanol into older cars and trucks “could leave millions of consumers with broken down cars and high repair bills,” said Bob Greco, a senior API official who has met with the White House on ethanol issues.