Gas Pumps

Flickr photo by J.C. Burns https/// -- CC 2.0 License

Gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol will keep its place at the pump after the Supreme Court decided not to take up a case challenging the fuel's safety.

The court rejected a challenge from the American Petroleum Institute on Monday that would have blocked the sale of E15, leaving in place a previous federal appeals court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency had adequately tested the fuel.

Opponents argued the fuel could pose dangers to some engines, while the EPA ruled E15 was safe for automobiles built in 2001 or later.

Gary Marshall, chief executive officer of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, said the court's position was a victory not just for farmers, but for consumers and the environment.

Missouri currently has a mandate that all gasoline contain at least 10 percent ethanol.

"The current renewable fuels standard is a requirement to use 10 percent ethanol," Mr. Marshall said. "This is simply another option for consumers who want to save money. Nobody is mandating an increase to 15 percent ethanol."

Golden Triangle Energy in Craig, Mo., now focuses primarily on production of industrial and food-grade ethanol. General manager Roger Hill said that while the decision is good news for the industry, it still requires cooperation with petroleum companies if a new blend is to gain a foothold in the market.

A handful of fuel stations in Missouri offer so-called "blender pumps" where drivers can purchase fuels with 10 percent, 20 percent or higher amounts of ethanol. However, current infrastructure makes it difficult to expand the use of such pumps without cooperation with the oil companies that own most filling stations.

"Frankly, to move above 15 percent, there has to be a change in a lot of the pumps that we're using today," Mr. Marshall said.

Federal mandates require refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel into conventional fuel by 2022.

Mr. Marshall and other biofuels advocates claim oil companies will soon have no choice but to start providing higher blends.

"We're pushing up against the blend wall," Mr. Marshall said. "Something will have to change."

Clinton Thomas can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPThomas.