The U.S. ethanol industry’s push for more room in the gas tanks of the nation’s cars got a boost in Chicago, where 43 stations will start selling gas with a higher blend of the biofuel.
Gasoline retailer Thorntons Inc. said in a statement it will introduce fuel with an ethanol content of as much as 15 percent, known as E-15, at gas stations this month.
Ethanol producers are saddled with record supplies and are seeking ways to boost demand to ease the glut. Washington-based industry groups Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association have been lobbying for seven years for the widespread adoption of higher levels of ethanol in gasoline. Nationally, the additive comprises about 10 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Jerrod Kitt, an analyst at Linn & Associates LLC in Chicago, said by phone. “Every little bit helps. Something needs to happen, sooner rather than later.”
The ethanol lobby has faced opposition from the oil industry, which has questioned whether gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol is safe for car engines, a debate that slowed the introduction of higher amounts. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved ethanol use for vehicles built after 2001.