The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continuing delays of a decision to boost the percentage of ethanol that can be blended into the domestic gasoline supply has the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) disappointed.

“It now appears it will be September or later before a ruling is made on blending 15% ethanol (E15),” says AFBF President Bob Stallman.

“The EPA’s delay is frustrating,” says Stallman. “The request to increase the percentage of ethanol that could be blended into our domestic gasoline supply to E15 should be a front-burner issue for EPA. This matter has been in front of the agency long before the Gulf oil disaster. Ethanol is a clean-burning, home-grown renewable fuel that makes sense.”

Stallman says EPA regulators also are considering limits to enhanced ethanol to just vehicles from 2007 or later model years, instead of the original plan to include 2001 and newer vehicles. There was also no word on a request to immediately approve the use of 12% ethanol blends for all vehicles.

In related news, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that net energy gain from converting corn to ethanol is improving in efficiency.

The report covers a survey of corn growers for 2005 and ethanol plants in 2008. It says overall ethanol has made the transition from an energy sink to a moderate net energy gain in the 1990s to a substantial net energy gain presently.

The report said ethanol yields have increased by about 10% in the last 20 years, meaning less corn is required. Besides refinements in ethanol technology, corn yields have increased by 39% over the last 20 years, requiring less land to produce ethanol.