By Tim Rudnicki, Esq.
The Editor’s Note points to a major problem confronting society but it also points to part of the solution to the problem. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), many of the observed climate changes, including temperature, storm patterns and intensity and the amounts of rain and snowfall, are unprecedented over decades to millennia. And the largest contribution to climate change “is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.” Carbon dioxide is one of the gases released from the fuel we use to power our vehicles.
Not all fuels are the same when it comes to carbon dioxide. In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction: Biennial Report to the Minnesota Legislature (January 2013), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency notes petroleum “fossil fuels contain carbon from millions of years ago which have long been removed from the carbon cycle.” On the other hand, renewable biofuels, such as ethanol, are made from living plant material. Fossil fuels cannot recapture carbon, but living plants can. “Carbon dioxide will be used by plants during photosynthesis and incorporated into the next crop of biofuels.”
While the science behind some of these statements can be rather involved, one of the take aways is this: using more biofuels can help decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a good thing for all of us.
Remember, you are part of the solution to the climate change challenge. In fact, if you have a 2001 or newer vehicle powered by a spark ignition engine, you can use E15. E15 is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. E15 is a higher octane fuel that is usually priced 10 cents to 15 cents under the price of a gallon of regular gasoline. But with E15 you will be using 5% more biofuel than is found in regular gasoline.
If you have a flex fuel vehicle (check owner’s manual, look for the badge on the back of your vehicle or check for a message on the gas cap), you can use even more biofuels, up to 85% ethanol. With E85 you will be saving more than 80 cents a gallon compared to regular gasoline and driving down even more carbon emission each time you need to use your vehicle.