The E85 Loophole

Federal program to reduce oil consumption instead increases it.

Published: 08-Jan-2006

LOS ANGELES - A federal push for cars that run on an alternative fuel straight from the heartland isn't winning many converts among American drivers - but is a hit with automakers who use it to skirt mileage standards.

Five million cars across the country are equipped to run on the fuel, but almost no one uses it outside the corn belt.

Fortunately for carmakers, a 1988 law designed to decrease oil use gives them credits for building vehicles that run on the alternative fuel whether anyone uses it or not. Those credits allow automakers to relax gasoline efficiency standards on other vehicles - which drives oil consumption up instead of down.

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