In a concise letter to the heads of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Agriculture as well as to the White House, a broad and diverse coalition of major consumer and industry associations has implored the EPA to slow down as it heads towards what seems to be a quick decision on allowing E15 (85% gasoline, 15% ethanol) blends to be sold at fueling stations for use in all vehicles—even those not originally designed for use with ethanol.
The letter writing coalition* represents virtually every retail gasoline provider, virtually every automobile manufacturer and a large majority of motorcycle, marine, and non-road equipment manufacturers in the US.
The EPA already allows the use of up up to 10% ethanol blends (E10) in all gasoline-powered vehicles and many states have adopted their own rules regarding the subject. Owners of small engined machines have been generally resistant to the ethanol blends, saying that higher amounts of ethanol can harm them.
Nonetheless, states like Oregon have mandated the use of ethanol blends, and up until earlier this year all gasoline sold in the state had to be E10 with the exception of a limited amount of stations where non-ethanol blended gas was sold for small engine use (e.g. boats, lawnmowers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, etc.). But back in July, under pressure from opponents, Oregon had a modest reversal to the law, and allowed stations to start selling premium gas without ethanol to appease the small engine crowd.
But EPA’s recent foray into dabbling in the world of E15 standards has made the already riled up small engine crowd even more wary, and it has even gotten the larger players to stand up and take notice. Saying that the EPA hasn’t used all available scientific evidence to move forward with an E15 standard, the coalition wrote:
“As a diverse group of stakeholders who want biofuels to succeed in the U.S. and who remain committed to finding the right market solutions for sustainable biofuel use, we are writing to express our concern that EPA may decide to allow E15 based on limited or inadequate data… We urge EPA to base its decision on a complete and sound scientific record… As you [EPA] proceed with important decisions that could affect the long term success of ethanol and possibly other biofuels in the U. S. market, it is imperative that those decisions be based on a complete understanding of the potential impacts of increased levels of ethanol on all segments of the end-user market. This approach is critical for satisfying both the national goals expressed in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the needs of American consumers.”
I tend to agree that we don’t want to tarnish the image of biofuels by needlessly wreaking havoc on otherwise perfectly good engines. I’d like to see EPA take a bit more time and weigh all factors before saying that E15 is fine for use in all vehicles. What do you all think?