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Could ethanol fuel lead to higher costs for drivers?

Over the past year, drivers of internal combustion vehicles have seen gas prices become, shall we say, tumultuous. And while things appear to be more stable now, many drivers are likely wondering if (or when) they might see prices rise again. According to a new Autoblog article, however, one source of a potential gas price hike could come from an unexpected source, namely domestically produced ethanol.

At issue is a request by the governors of several Midwestern states to increase sales of E15 gasoline to the state year-round. E15 gasoline contains 15% ethanol, unlike the widely available E10 gasoline, which contains 10% ethanol. (Neither should be confused with rapper E-40, whose appearance on The Lonely Island’s “Santana DVX” is utterly sublime.)

According to Ethanol Producer magazine, the request was a bipartisan effort, with the governors of “Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin” all backing it.

Consulting firm Baker & O’Brien Inc. conducted a study analyzing the impact of widespread E15 fuel and found it could raise the price of gasoline by as much as $0.12 a gallon, far more than a previous estimate, according to Autoblog.

The status of the request that set this all in motion remains pending. Another factor that could play into this debate is the potential environmental impacts of corn-based ethanol, which has some scientists alarmed. It is a discussion that seems to be far from over.

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