Beverly Hills' mid-century modern 76 station

December 1st marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first gas station in the US. It's an interesting anniversary, and ethanol advocates are using the occasion to tout the advantages of corn-based fuel, Domestic Fuel reports. The Renewable Fuels Association says Americans can save as much as a dollar a gallon using ethanol and about 65 cents a gallon (in Michigan, at least) using an 85-percent ethanol blend (aka E85). About 15.5 million US vehicles are of the flex-fuel variety, while there are about 3,200 US retailers distributing E85.

The RFA also uses the anniversary to note that E15, i.e. gasoline with a 15-percent ethanol blend, is "the most tested fuel in the history of the Environmental Protection Agency." Groups like the RFA have stepped up their efforts to support ethanol as a response to the recent EPA proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels required in the annual domestic fuel supply. Ethanol supporters cite reduced foreign-oil dependency, in addition to lower refueling prices, as a reason to use the biofuel. Opponents say higher ethanol blends (higher than regular fuel, which has about 10 percent ethanol) may cause engine damage.

As for the history of gas stations in America, Pennsylvania historians cite a Gulf station in Pittsburgh as the country's first, having opened in December 1913. That first day, a gallon of fuel cost 27 cents, which is the equivalent of $6.37 today. There are about 120,000 gas stations in the US today.