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Editorial: E15 plan is positive for ag and our region

The approval of the E15 blend -- a 15 percent ethanol gasoline blend -- Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a positive step for west central Minnesota.

The E15 ethanol gasoline mixture -- a 50 percent increase in the ethanol portion of gasoline -- will not likely find quick entrance into the retail gasoline market.

The EPA only approved E15 for cars and trucks in the 2007 model year or later. This is only about 16 percent of the current cars and trucks on the roads.

The agency is still reviewing and testing the E15 blend for the model years 2001-2006 vehicles. This should be completed by the end of the year.

The EPA decision is a step in the right direction, both in helping grow the ethanol industry and reducing the U.S. dependence upon foreign oil.

Minnesota is among the top five ethanol-producing states. The state's 21 ethanol plants will produce more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol this year for the first time.

The slow move to E15 in the retail gasoline market will likely help service stations and convenience stores as well as consumers to get used to the new ethanol blend.

E15 sales will likely begin in the first part of 2011, especially in the Midwest, and slowly grow.

Ethanol's role as a renewable and domestic energy source will only grow in coming years. The ethanol industry is here to stay.