Congressmen Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Phil Hare (D-IL) today authored a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to request he consider making financial assistance to troubled automakers contingent upon their support of higher ethanol blends in gasoline.
"By increasing the ethanol blends in gas we will simultaneously help our nation address climate change, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase green economic opportunities, all of which complement President Obama's stated goals," said Schock.
"More ethanol means more jobs in Illinois," Hare said. "Increasing the ethanol blend is an important and overdue step that will help free us from our dependence on foreign oil, reduce global warming pollution, and protect consumers from spikes in gas prices."
The ethanol industry produced 9.2 billion gallons of ethanol last year, reducing oil imports by 321.4 million barrels. The use of this biofuel also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 48-59 percent when compared to traditional gasoline, according to a recent report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, the ethanol industry supported more than 494,000 jobs, putting an estimated $19.9 billion into circulation last year.
While impressive, the ethanol industry can contribute more if the automakers support the use of higher blends without negating the warranties of vehicles on the roads today. This further benefit would include the reduction of an additional 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, the equivalent of removing 10.5 million vehicles from our roads. Furthermore, North Dakota State University estimates that increasing the amount of ethanol used in the U.S. will produce 136,000 new, good-paying jobs.
Currently, automakers provide warranties for their vehicles allowing ethanol blends of 10 percent. These levels were set 30 years ago in response to the levels allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At that time, little was known about the effects of ethanol in gasoline. Research currently underway has shown that the traditional, unmodified internal combustion engine can handle higher blends of ethanol. In fact, testing of intermediate blends of ethanol, by the U.S. Department of Energy found there to be "no adverse effects" associated with using higher blends of ethanol.