SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The gasoline used in most cars could soon have more ethanol.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, approval for a 15 percent blend – as opposed to the current 10 percent – is a step closer.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has accepted the industry’s research into whether a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline has any ill effects on public or environmental health.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

“Health impact studies are one of the things that they look at to ensure that there are no emissions from E15 that are more harmful than gasoline emissions or emissions from E10, and they’ve found that to be the case,” said Dave Loos, director of technology and business development for the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

Loos says it is a step toward full acceptance of E15 for all vehicles made for the 2001 model year and later.

Right now, E15 is used in “flex fuel” vehicles. Most of the rest of us are using E10.

A bill that would pave the way for the broad use of E15 fuel in Illinois has not moved since being sent to the state House Rules Committee last year. It had been approved by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, but was caught up in constitutional red tape over a veto.

Meanwhile, most vehicles operated by the state of Illinois have run on fuel that is mostly ethanol for several years.

In April 2004, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an order encouraging the use of biofuels and flexible fuels in state vehicles, and since then, 75 percent of all vehicles purchased by the state have been equipped to run on E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, according to the state Central Management Services.

State vehicles have been using ethanol-based fuels for more than three decades. Then-Gov. Jim Thompson issued an order that all 10,000 state cars and trucks begin running on E10, then commonly known as gasohol, on Nov. 2, 1979.

Back that year, CBS 2 Health and Science Editor Roger Field explained that in addition to the environmental and conservation benefits, fuel containing ethanol yields better mileage than pure gasoline because it burns cooler, causing the engine piston to move more slowly and make more efficient use of gasoline. Diluting alcohol with water would have the same effect, Field said, but obviously would not be advisable because the fuel would freeze.

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