Blended Fuels Reduce Environmental Impact
Legislators can solve both energy and environmental problems by promoting the use of blended fuels containing ethanol as an alternative to regular gasoline. Increasing the use of blended fuels through subsidies and/or tax exemptions, or completely replacing regular gasoline by making blended fuels mandatory in all cars, will decrease dependency on petroleum,provide new markets for local farmers, and will also help to reduce air pollution from traffic and the rapidly increasing CO2 emissions from the transport sector. Canada, The United States and India have all undertaken to promote the use of blended fuels through different policy measures.
Ethanol is high in power-producing octane and burns more cleanly than most gasoline, making it a valuable tool in the fight to reduce air pollution as well as C02 emissions. Blends of petroleum containing up to 10% ethanol are widely known as 'gasohol'. Consistent use of gasohol in the place of pure gasoline could potentially have a huge impact on air pollution and C02 emissions. Gasohol helps to reduce carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 17%, CO2 emissions by 4.2%, and hydrocarbon emissions by 5%. Furthermore, using gasohol has also been found to reduce emissions of benzene (a known carcinogen) and 1,3 butadiene.
Gasohol containing 10% ethanol is supported by the vast majority of motor manufacturers. While high ethanol fuels require engine modification, 5-30% ethanol mixed with gasoline works in most unmodified engines - indeed, 10% ethanol-blended gasoline is now warranted by all car manufacturers selling vehicles in North America.
Legislators can provide financial incentives to encourage the production and use of blofuels, and such incentives have proved effective in a number of countries. In Canada, the Manitoba provincial government has reduced the levy by 2.5 cents per litre - from 11.5 cents to 9 cents per litre. In addition, the federal government provides an exemption on its gasoline excise tax of 1.0 cent per litre of gasohol. The total cost to the provincial treasury has never exceeded $2 million annually. Under the new Biofuels Act, the provincial incentive will be reduced from 2.5 cents per litre to an average of 1.5 cents per litre over an eight-year period. At which time the incentive will be removed.
Legislators can go further and completely replace regular gasoline with gasohol. In Minnesota, USA, the institution of various credit and promotional programs culminated in a legislated requirement for all gasoline to contain 10% ethanol. This has not only reduced emissions, but has also reduced the state's dependency on fuel imports and created a new market for the state's largest crop, corn, which is used to produce ethanol.
India has similarly made blended fuel containing 5% ethanol compulsory for cars in nine of its states. This move is expected to reduce emissions from vehicles by up to 10%, help to curb India's huge import bills on crude oil, and give a boost to farmers that produce sugarcane, which is fermented to make ethanol.