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Ethanol station opening a move in right direction

Oct. 26, 2005


Texas has made a step forward in alternative fuel sources.

The first public ethanol station opened last week in San Antonio. The new fuel is less expensive and better for the environment.

E85, the variety of ethanol the station supplies, is about 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Since the main ingredient is ethanol, E85 is nontoxic, water soluble and biodegradable.

Ben Humeniuk | Lariat staff
E85 also has the highest oxygen content of any transportation fuel available on the market, which makes it burn cleaner than gasoline and causes fewer exhaust emissions.

It results in reduced production of smog and respiratory illnesses associated with poor air quality.

E85 also reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, the main contributor to global warming, by as much as 39 to 46 percent. The scientific community is debating the impact of global warming in relation to many of the recent natural disasters.

The best part is that E85 averages about 20 cents per gallon less than gasoline and can generally be used by vehicles made after 1987, making it an affordable way to help the environment. Drivers can make sure their vehicles can use the fuels by checking their vehicles' owner's manuals or by logging on to

New electric hybrid vehicles still average $5,000 to $10,000 more than their nonhybrid counterparts, making them a costly avenue of conservation.

The use of this fuel could eliminate the country's need to rely on foreign oil, since E85 is made up of only a small portion of gasoline, while still allowing our own oil companies to exist. Widespread use of E85 can help prevent the destruction of natural areas such as Alaska, where companies drill for fossil fuels.

San Antonio is making the right move. Its example should prompt other places in Texas and around the U.S. to open up ethanol stations.

The stations also need support from the public. Because ethanol still needs gasoline, it's not a permanent solution. It is, however, a good fix while we continue looking for alternative fuel sources.