Government Flex-Fuel Vehicles Must Use E85 Where Available

Story Number: NNS151208-18Release Date: 12/8/2015 2:01:00 PM
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By Kelley Stirling, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

Virginia Beach, VA (NNS) -- With nearly 30 percent of government vehicles being flex-fuel vehicles, the regional transportation director wants to remind those driving government flex-fuel vehicles to fill up with E85 fuel where it is available.

"I suspect that the majority of folks just don't know," said Mike Lienemann, referring to drivers who don't realize they are supposed to be filling up their flex-fuel vehicles with E85 where it is available. Lienemann is the Base Support Vehicles and Equipment Product Line Coordinator for Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.

E85 is 85 percent Ethanol (from corn or other sources) and 15 percent gasoline. By comparison, regular unleaded fuel is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.

Through Executive Order, the government is required to find ways to save on energy and reduce its dependency on foreign oil. One way the government is working to do that is by purchasing flex fuel, hybrid-electric and electric vehicles that operate using alternative fuels and other alternative energy sources. American automobile manufacturers GM, Ford and Chrysler have pledged to produce 50 percent of their vehicles as E85 compatible flex-fuel vehicles in support of the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007.

"Using E85 reduces our country's reliance on foreign oil and burns cleaner than gasoline, reducing hydrocarbon emissions," says Larry Boone, Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Automotive Program Manager. "Not only that, but E85 is produced in the U.S., mostly from corn feedstock, and that keeps the American farmer in business."

The price of E85, in general, runs about 10 to 25 cents cheaper than regular unleaded gas and according to some studies, E85 emits less hydrocarbons, or Green House Gases (GHGs). The down side of E85 is that a vehicle using E85 versus regular unleaded fuel drives fewer miles per gallon. But that's not the reason to use the E85, according to Boone. "As an owner or operator of a flex-fuel vehicle, the use of E85 shows your contribution to the benefits of E85 as well as your environmental stewardship," said Boone.

E85 can be difficult to find for those operating a flex-fuel vehicle and many people don't even realize they could be using the E85 or where to get it.

"I think many people are not aware the E85 is there or even know what E85 is," said Lienemann.

In the Hampton Roads area, there are only a few stations that offer E85, and most of them are government-owned.

NEX gas stations with E85 pumps include:
NAS Oceana, Virginia
JEB Little Creek / Fort Story, Virginia
NS Norfolk, Virginia
Naval Academy, Maryland
NSB New London, Connecticut
NSWC Crane, Indiana
NAS Pensacola, Florida (currently out of service but expected to be operating again soon)
NS Everett, Washington
NAS Whidbey Island, Washington

The general public can also get E85 at these pumps in areas where E85 is not available in the civilian sector.

"The other problem is that government vehicles will often get driven by people other than the person who rented the vehicle in the first place," said Lienemann. "That means the message that they need to fill up with E85 isn't getting passed along and we need that to happen."

Lienemann said his department is working on ways to improve that message, such as stickers on the dashboard or gas cap and mirror hang tags indicating that the government flex fuel vehicle must be filled up with E85.

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