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Crook County joins others switching to ethanol

Studies show benefits to environment, but fewer miles per gallon on average

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - House Bill 2210 was passed in the 2007 Oregon legislative session, requiring counties throughout the state to impoement the use of 10 percent blended ethanol gasoline.

With almost six months before the state mandated deadline, local gas stations have already started introducing an ethanol blend gasoline into the community.
   House Bill 2210 was passed in the 2007 legislative session and signed into law. On Jan. 15, nine northwestern Oregon counties were required to implement the use of the 10 percent ethanol blend gasoline. By April 15, the remaining westside counties must instigate the mandatory use of ethanol, followed by counties east of the Cascades on or before Sept. 16.
   The Prineville Chevron took the lead in town, offering the blended gasoline in October. More stations have followed suit, introducing the specialized motor fuel in recent weeks.
   "Basically it is a cleaner gas. It burns cleaner, so it doesn't put out as many emissions," Prineville Chevron Manager Jeff Hensley said. "It just takes the water out of the gas and makes it more efficient."
   While studies show the environment may benefit from the use of one-tenth ethanol fuel, statistics estimate that the average miles per gallon ratio could decrease by two to four percent.
   In addition, older cars may run into significant problems with the new blended gasoline.
   "There is such a small percentage of ethanol in the gas that on most rigs, most of the time, it's not going to do any damage," Roxie Shulson of Terry's Auto Repair said. "They've got a loophole in there, so that if you have damage to your rig, yours is just one of the ones that fell through the cracks."
   Unfortunately, older vehicles with outdated components could wind up with considerable damage, including a blown engine.
   "If they're running around with an old vehicle that has the manual fuel pump and old fuel lines, those are the vehicles that are in danger," she said. "The old fuel lines are not compatible with the ethanol and then it will destroy the internal workings of the fuel pump. That sounds bad enough, but if it can get past the fuel filter before it ruins the fuel filter, it can dump a load of fuel into the motor. It's more than what the carburetor can handle. Then there's too much gas in there that dilutes down the oil and it burns up the motor."
   For now, gasoline patrons can still avoid the blended ethanol mixture simply by inquiring about the product at the station. If you are concerned about which fuel pump and hose your vehicle has, Shulson recommended taking your car to a mechanic to check.
   "We can do two things - change out that fuel line and then make sure that it has the right kind of fuel pump on it," she said. "It's a few minutes of our time and a few bucks out of their pockets and a whole lot of peace of mind."