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ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Blender pumps across the state are in danger of disappearing because they might not meet the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Air Act standards, according to a report in Aberdeen American News.
The blender pumps, which can supply fuel blends of 20 to 30 percent ethanol, are meant for flex fuel vehicles only. However, they operate the same as a regular gas pumps, and consumers are putting the higher grades into vehicles that can not handle them, the report stated.
Two retailers in the area, Four Seasons Cooperative, in Britton, and Farmers Union Co-op in Ferney, offer the various blends of ethanol fuel. They both get the blends from Cenex Harvest States, which has recommended discontinuing the use of blender pumps by the end of this year, the report stated. Unless the EPA rules the pumps acceptable, Cenex will not allow the blends to be sold.
The 30 percent blend is a big seller, even more so than E85, according to Rick Pigors, the manager of Farmers Union Co-op. "The blend is only recommended for flex fuel vehicles, but we do have customers that put it in older vehicles," he told American News.
He added that if the EPA rules against the 20 and 30 percent blends, customers will blend their own gas by filling tanks partway with gasoline and the remainder with E85. "They're not going to come up with a consistent blend. They'll end up with a 32 or 35 percent blend," he told the paper.
But the Four Seasons Cooperative is concerned about business. If the EPA rules out the blends, of which the 30 percent is the most popular, "We'd lose some sales because we do have people that drive to Britton [for the blends]," Tammy Satrang told American News.
Sioux Valley Co-op, in Watertown, has already pulled the fuel from its lineup, according to a report on Kelolandtv.com.
"We decided the best thing we can do for right now would be to shut them down until we find out for sure where we stand on that situation," said general manager of Sioux Valley Co-op Gary French. "We just thought this was the thing to do to promote our customers' products."
The company operated the pumps at two Cenex stations in the area, until a fuel supplier asked if the blends were approved for sale. Although French wants to give customers the choice of fuels, he must wait to see if it's allowed by the EPA.
"Although we want to promote ethanol we want to do it in the right way so to speak," French told Kelolandtv.com.