Some ethanol supporters push for E30
While the mainstream ethanol advocates are pushing toward E15, some want much more. Orrie Swayze, a Wilmot, S.D., semi-farmer and former South Dakota Corn Growers Association president, says the Environmental Protection Agency shift toward E15 wo...
While the mainstream ethanol advocates are pushing toward E15, some want much more.
Orrie Swayze, a Wilmot, S.D., semi-farmer and former South Dakota Corn Growers Association president, says the Environmental Protection Agency shift toward E15 would be a "zero growth proposition," and should only be a step toward a goal of E30.
Swayze says the reason is clear: Gasoline use will decline as fast as the expansion from E10 to E15 would increase the market.
Now 71, Swayze became a public advocate and leader in the early 1980s. He acknowledges he's become a gadfly or an outsider on his E30 quest, but that doesn't stop him.
"E30 is the first real step to an open fuel standard," Swayze says. "You've got to have a big vision, where ethanol can compete without any roadblocks." He says the EPA says it's illegal to fuel E30 into a standard vehicle, but he does it all the time.
With the tenacity of the former Air Force fighter pilot that he once was, Swayze is happy to be photographed putting E30 into his standard pickup.
He says the federal Clean Air Act allows vehicle operators to put E30 into a standard vehicle if the operator can be sure emissions and ignitions equipment won't be degraded. It's an "unnecessary restraint on commerce" to prevent consumers from fueling E30 in their standard vehicles, he says.
A premium fuel
Vehicle manufacturers have already acknowledged that E30 is a premium fuel, meaning it offers power and good fuel economy, Swayze says. E10 and E15 increase the volatility of gasoline into the environment, while E30 -- ironically --- reduces volatility back to the base level of gasoline. It also adds another 3 percent octane and cools the air in a turbo-charging effect, allowing more power.
That's one of the longer-term positive prospects for ethanol, says Dave Ripplinger, North Dakota State University Extension biofuels economics specialist. But he also says the 50 percent increase in capacity achieved by going to E15 would be a positive.
Most advocates say the E30 strategy goes too far for the political times -- a sort of lightning rod to attract or intensify opponents such as small engine and recreational equipment makers.
Jeff Broin, executive chairman of Poet LLC of Sioux Falls, S.D., says in the past five years, the ethanol industry has been working to instate the E15 waiver and should stick to that.
"We have been fighting battles legally and against new EPA sanctions and against all types of regulatory issues in Washington, just to get from E10 to E15 at the pumps," Broin says. "We are very excited about E30, but it's going to take a major push from the agricultural community -- farmers working with ag companies, working with the ethanol industry, working with anybody who profits from any of our industries in order to push this through."
The two agree on one thing: Without a healthy economic environment for ethanol, big parts of the agricultural industry face "a pretty bleak future," as Broin puts it.