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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Ethanol development needs better support

As gas prices continue to increase, we should take another look at ethanol.

Nearly a decade ago, Minnesota gas stations began serving fuel made with 10 percent ethanol. Back then, Minnesotans were enjoying gas prices of less than a buck per gallon. Gasoline was inexpensive and available, causing little need to look for alternatives.

But with gas prices stuck at more than $2 per gallon, ethanol has become a popular topic again. It’s sad that it was a moot issue for so long, but, hopefully, gas prices will stay high so some progress can be made.

Because of the large number of corn farmers in Minnesota, increasing the use of ethanol in gasoline will benefit the state as a source of revenue. Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s ambition to make Minnesota the Saudi Arabia of renewable fuels can become a reality.

But Pawlenty and the rest of the people in Minnesota need to look beyond the financial impact of ethanol. The fuel is also far better for the environment, and there are very limited reasons for increasing its use.

Minnesotans are using more than 100,000 vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol. Many gas stations offer that blend for the “flex fuel” cars, as they are called. But the vehicles are not well advertised and neither are the gas stations that offer the fuel.

This is odd, because the 85 percent ethanol blend is one of the few gasoline types that can be purchased for less than $2.

The fuel is cheap, it creates 30 percent less greenhouse gas and 80 percent less toxins and sulfur than conventional gas, and it has a performance-packing octane of roughly 105. Best of all, auto manufacturers can make vehicles that use it, and Minnesota corn growers can make the fuel. Everyone wins.

The benefits of ethanol need to be better advertised, and perks need to be offered to Minnesotans who buy vehicles that can run on it.

Hopefully, ethanol won’t get lost if fuel prices drop.

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