Watching Government: Favored fuel

It's a good time to be in the fuel ethanol business. Environmental regulators in more than a dozen US states want to ban the clean-fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether from gasoline because of groundwater contamination concerns. And ethanol remains the only other commercial option to meet today's federal clean fuel rules. That troubles the oil industry. It has an ambivalent relationship with ethanol producers, typically large Midwest corn processing companies. Fuel ethanol can be a refiner's best friend: It is a great gasoline extender because it can replace up to 10% of a gallon of gasoline by volume. But fuel ethanol also has its problems: higher volatility, little prod...

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