A Year of American Ethanol

By Tom Buis | December 12, 2011

As an advocate for American-made renewable energy and a former farmer, I recognize what ethanol has meant for our rural communities—creating jobs and generating enormous economic activity. But, for many outside America’s heartland, firsthand knowledge of ethanol is rare. We have all seen the opinions of those opposed to ethanol that base their arguments on often inaccurate or misleading assumptions.

That is why the American Ethanol partnership with NASCAR to use Sunoco Green E15 (a blend of 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) is so important. It has been one year since the partnership was formed and throughout the entire 2011 season, NASCAR showcased E15 as the new fuel of choice to American consumers across the country by using it in all three of its national racing series, including the Sprint Cup.

The fuel debuted at the Daytona 500 just one month after the U.S. EPA approved E15 for all vehicles built within the past decade—a move that studies prove will create U.S. jobs, improve our environment and strengthen our national security by displacing foreign oil. The decision to approve E15 was based on extensive testing and engine performance data. As the governing body of one of the nation’s most popular sports, NASCAR’s first concern was to ensure the quality of the racing experience.

According to NASCAR officials and drivers, E15 has met and surpassed expectations, providing increased horsepower with no decrease in mileage—proving that American ethanol-blended fuel works in the most challenging engine environment. In an October interview with Fox News, NASCAR CEO Brian France said, “Fuel mileage has been great, the performance of the fuel… If it can withstand the test of the 500 miles of the closest competition under extreme circumstances, it will work anywhere and it does, and we are proving it every Sunday.”

NASCAR officially hit the 1 million mile mark with the new fuel at Watkins Glen International Speedway in mid-August. Shortly after, NASCAR released a Million Miles report validating E15’s qualities as a fuel. NASCAR racing vehicles accumulated more than a million miles of practice, qualifying and racing laps on E15—with no problem, no issues, and in fact, greater return in horsepower.

The American Ethanol partnership and the million mile landmark is helping NASCAR to go green and educating millions of consumers about the economic, environmental and national security benefits of ethanol. In November, NASCAR hosted a daylong Green Summit to call attention to its environmentally responsible efforts. Mike Lynch, managing director of green innovation for NASCAR, said at the start of the summit, “Successfully transitioning to the new fuel and surpassing a million miles, all on America’s toughest proving ground, is a validation of Sunoco Green E15 as a high-performance racing fuel and is part of our overall effort to go green. NASCAR is proud to use this American-made product because it creates American jobs while also reducing harmful emissions.”

Domestic ethanol is the key to making our nation energy independent. Every gallon of clean, renewable ethanol that we produce in this country decreases the demand for foreign oil and keeps U.S. money in the U.S. economy, where it can create U.S. jobs, instead of creating jobs overseas.

There are still many regulatory hurdles that must be addressed before E15 is available at the pump for all Americans. But NASCAR’s adoption of E15 should help encourage all American motorists to embrace ethanol as a high octane fuel that provides quality performance, reduces harmful emissions and frees us from our costly dependence on foreign oil.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy