Giveaway promotes ethanol

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2003

Thursday's free fuel giveaway at Severson's Conoco was beneficial for area residents who chose to purchase vehicles with E85 capabilities.

E85, a fuel made from 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum, is a cleaner-burning fuel that is refined in Minnesota.

Many drivers Thursday didn't know Conoco sold E85 fuel and still others didn't know their vehicles could accept the fuel.

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The day also gave promoters of the fuel a chance to discuss its benefits and the possibilities for the fuel in the future.

E85 releases less tailpipe emissions. It is becoming a greater economic benefit to the state as area ethanol plants expand to accommodate demand.

Drivers say their vehicles get better mileage and that the fuel creates more power. It's also cheaper than regular gasoline, which is hovering at $1.70, compared to E85's roughly $1.50 a gallon.

There are some drawbacks to the fuel, such as lower octane and its not available for all vehicles.

But the benefits seem to outweigh the down side. It's too bad millions in subsidies for ethanol plants were cut earlier this month to balance the state's budget.

Whether those cuts will have a real impact remains to be seen, but the state shouldn't turn its back on a product that could shape the state's economic future.