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Minnesota Legislators Pushing for E20 Mandate

The Forum. Minnesota legislators are pushing a bill that would double the amount of ethanol required in gasoline sold in Minnesota from 10% to 20% by 2012.

The so-called “E20” proposal could be heard on the Senate floor as early as Monday, said bill author Sen. Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples. [...]

Oil and automobile industry representatives said they don’t oppose more ethanol, but don’t believe a mandate is the right approach.

Peg Gutman of Ford Motor Co. said that instead of requiring E20, the state should promote expanding the existing 85 percent ethanol blend [E85].

The state will need a waiver from the US EPA before the bill could go into effect.

E85 flex fuel cars are an underutilized approach in the US. The following automakers offer E85 models for the current model year (2005):

  • Ford: 4.0-liter Explorer, 3.0-liter Taurus, 4.0-liter Mercury Mountaineer, 3.0-liter Mercury Sable

  • Daimler Chrysler: 4.7-liter Dodge Ram 1500, 2.7-liter Chrysler Sebring, 2.7-liter Dodge Stratus, 3.3-liter Caravan, 3.2-liter Mercedes C320

  • General Motors: 5.3-liter Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, 5.3-liter Sierra and Silverado

  • Nissan:  5.6-liter Titan trucks


John Norris

I'm confused. I know B20 is 20% biodiesel. Is E85 really 85% ethanol? If so, presumably regular gasoline cars cannot run on it. But I assume they probably could on E20 (only 20% ethanol).

-- John


That’s right—E85 is 85% ethanol, and the engines do need some modifications to allow them to run efficiently on both E85 and conventional gasoline. (flex fuel).

Most cars should run on E20...although there are some studies that show increased engine wear over time with an E20 blend. Any problem the automakers have with it would probably then fall into the realm of warranty coverage.


Mike is right. This is Bob from Minnesota, who suggests anyone interested in Minnesota's lead in biofuel use (more than 100 E85 stations, E10 gasoline sold statewide, B2 biodiesel coming soon) visit a site run by our organization, the American Lung Association of Minnesota:

As we say up North: biofuels? You bettcha!

Mikhail Capone

Well, it's nice to know that some things are happening south of the (Canadian) border. I'm about 200 pages into "The War Against the Greens" by David Helvarg (pretty good so far -- lots of things I suspected but I never knew it went this far) and I was starting to get depressed a bit.


Actually, Mike, as I understand things from a friend in the office of a lobbyist in Minnesota; per the auto manufacturers, if we run 20% ethanol fuel in our vehicles and have engine wear because of it, our warranties might be voided, as it is not recommended by the manufacturers to use this fuel.

Already we have fuel mileage that is less than national average on the same vehicles because we have 10% ethanol in Minnesota fuels.


Meredith, I think you describe the situation’s partially an engineering issue, but mainly a warranty policy issue.

Would the potential wear be sufficient to create problems over the normal operational life of the engine? I don’t think they’ve done sufficient research into it yet, so the default position sounds like a resounding maybe.

Assuming Minnesota goes for the E20 rule, the automakers might want to work out some sort of warranty rider with supplemental support from the state in case there was widespread wear.

As far as higher fuel consumption when using ethanol goes, that’s a given due to its lower energy content. The presumption is that because it is a renewable biofuel, the lowered emissions possible through the use of ethanol more than offsets the increase in fuel consumed.

In fact, operationally that’s what you can see clearly in the flex fuel vehicles that use 85% ethanol. (GM providing a good recent example—this post.)


Great idea - why hasnt this happened nationwide?

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