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Kum & Go is making a push into oil country with a motor fuel made primarily from

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Kum & Go is making a push into oil country with a motor fuel made primarily from corn. 



Kum & Go is making a push into oil country with a motor fuel made primarily from corn.

The convenience store chain is adding the so-called E85 gasoline which is primarily ethanol, or corn alcohol at its newer stores here. You may have seen the electronic signs at about a dozen of these outlets advertising E85, which typically is priced less than the much more common E10 blend.

E10, with 10 percent ethanol, is what most of us burn whether we realize it or not. "Pure" gasoline, or E0, is more expensive and difficult to find these days, though it's still out there.

You have to drive a "flex fuel" vehicle to use E85 without risking damage. There's a growing number of models available with the flex-fuel option from manufacturers including Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler and Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Toyota.

You can even buy an E85 commercial mower from John Deere.

Flex-fuel vehicles constitute only 7 percent of U.S. vehicles, or 16 million, according to a new Iowa State University study. The percentage has been increasing in recent years, but that fleet of E85 autos is in danger of running on empty with only 2 percent of retailers selling the fuel.

Kum & Go is one of the big chains that is trying to address that problem. It is based in Iowa, where corn is a major crop, so it's not surprising to see the business embrace E85. But Kum & Go's motivation goes beyond pleasing farmers in their home state, says external communications manager Traci Rodemeyer.

"One of the core values of our company is sustainability," she said. "We're proud to offer E85. It burns cleaner and is good for the environment."

Proponents also stress that E85 is a domestically produced fuel. Using it lessens our dependence on foreign oil, they argue.

But here is where the controversy begins. Critics of ethanol say its economics are a result of subsidies to corn farmers, which slants the playing field against oil producers. They also complain that though E85 currently costs less, it produces far worse gas mileage than E10.

Even the claim about burning cleaner doesn't go unchallenged. E85 reduces most traditional tailpipe emissions, but it also increases the production of the common air pollutant acetaldehyde, observers say.

In Oklahoma, especially, using a primarily corn-based fuel is looked upon by some as unsupportive of the oil industry, which provides many jobs and significant tax revenue.

Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesman for QuikTrip Corp., Kum & Go's biggest competitor in the Tulsa market, says his company has no plans to add E85.

"We don't see much consumer thirst for that product," he says. "If anything, we are heading in the other direction by offering E0 at some of our stores. We think that's what most people here want."

Retailers are under pressure from the federal government to increase the amount of biofuels used by consumers. Adding ethanol options is one way to do that. So, despite the recent boom in domestic oil production, corn-based fuel use likely will only continue to rise.

It may just be a matter of time until E15 a blend with 15 percent ethanol arrives locally. The government has approved it for cars made since 2001; E10 is considered safe for vehicles manufactured after 1985.

So while most of us now just pull in and choose regular, midgrade or unleaded, the convenience stores of the future may have almost as many choices at the pumps as they do at the soft-drink fountains.










Love it.. pushing into Oil Country

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  Much of the fracking going on here in Colorado isn't for Natural Gas, but for oil.



  Where I am , in Weld county , there is alot of infrastructure also being built up ( pipeline, storage tanks,processing equipment , etc. ).

Great for the local economy, but lots of oilfield traffic on county roads probably not designed for it ( read --HEAVY--).


Long story short,  K & G prices here are nothing like those in Iowa.


Think Oil has any influence on this ??

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As I've said before, the rise in E85 is not unchallenged. I'm surprised to hear QuickTrip say they have no interest in expanding the fuel... not surprising for a state like Oklahoma though... well into oil country, and well away from the corn belt. I'll bet though, that if more people were educated about the negative and severe environmental impacts of oil, they'll at the very least feel compelled to use E15.

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