Inefficient gas mixtures cost consumers

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 11:44 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Chris Chase has always kept a detailed log of his gas mileage so he can track his car's fuel economy.

"I was getting pretty good gas mileage, between about 38 and 41 miles to the gallon, and suddenly it dropped," Chase said.

Chase said his mileage dropped by almost 10 miles per gallon. His story is not unusual. The same decrease happened to Jamie Bellah.

"A couple months ago, I went from 26 to 21 miles to the gallon," Bellah said.

Bellah thought the problem was with her car.

"I put four new tires on, put in a new air filter, new muffler, nothing happened," Bellah said.

Both Chase and Bellah later heard that gas retailers were starting to sell gasoline with as much as ten percent ethanol blended in to boost profits.

Neal Do owns seven gas stations in the metro, including the Valero at NE 63 and Kelley Ave. Do said the economics of ethanol made it very tempting to sell, but ultimately, the ethics of ethanol convinced him not to blend it in with the gasoline he sells.

Research has shown ethanol does not burn as efficiently as gasoline. Currently, there's no scientific consensus on how much less efficient the blended gasoline burns compared to the non-blended mixture.

Do believes it's enough that it's costing consumers big bucks.

If consumers question whether they're filling up with pure gasoline or a gasoline-ethanol blend, they can ask the store clerk or purchase a gasohol test kit.

Representative Phil Richardson introduced legislation this session to end the practice and require retailers to label their pumps if they contain any alcohol. Retailers aren't opposed to the legislation, but many do take issue with claims that the gasoline-ethanol blend hurts a car's gas mileage as much as some people claim.

Chris Chase said the proof is that his mileage returned to where it was after he found a station that he knew wasn't selling gasohol.

Bellah was also sure the blend affects gas mileage and said people need to know that, while it may be tempting to buy gas that five or ten cents cheaper at the pump, you'll more than pay for it on the road.

Bellah also found that her mileage went up after finding a non-ethanol retailer.