Local experts break down environmental impact of E15 fuel

Experts in the state are weighing in on the environmental impact of E15 fuel.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:01 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - Experts in Iowa are weighing in on the environmental impact of E15 fuel after President Biden chose to allow the sales to continue this summer.

E15 is usually banned from June 1 to Sept. 15 due to pollution concerns.

But advocates, like Seth Harder, the CEO of ethanol company Lincolnway Energy, say the fuel is a cleaner alternative to petroleum gas.

“We know that something’s changing and 97 percent of the world’s climatologist say we need to do something, we need to do it now,” Harder said. “So any type of reduction we can do in greenhouse gases in the nation is really a good endeavor.”

One study found that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by as much as 40 percent by consuming ethanol instead of petroleum.

However, critics say the expanded sales are a step backwards. According to the U.S. energy information administration, increased E15 use in vehicles has been linked to higher smog levels in the summer months.

Experts say this potentially causes airway damage or extra struggles for those with conditions like asthma.

“We know that anything that expands or extends this industry does have negative impacts on our air and our water,” said Jessica Mazour, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club of Iowa.

The White House says the EPA will work with states throughout the summer to help mitigate air quality impacts.

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