API Releases Slanted Study Aimed At E15

As I get older, I find my tolerance for bullshit receding at a rapid rate. I try not to lose hope in humanity, but there are days when even I am shocked at the ignorant persistence and slanted viewpoints of certain entities. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents America’s major oil companies, is a consistent purveyor of half-truths and crooked studies, and their latest “study” aimed at E15 keeps on that crooked path of deliberate misinformation.

The study, which you can read in its entirety for yourself, was conducted by the Coordinating Research Council, a non-profit funded almost entirely by the API and major automakers. The study purports to conclude that E15 ethanol is harmful to vehicles made between 2001 and 2009. However, just by looking at the list of vehicles procured for this test, I can tell you that durability issues were all but inevitable. The vehicles chosen for this ethanol durability test were a 2009 Chevy Aveo, a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T, a 2005 Chevy Colorado, a 2004 Scion xA, a 2007 Ford Edge, a 2007 Dodge Ram, and a 2009 Dodge Caliber. None of these vehicles has exactly built a reputation as reliable. Why not include a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, the two most popular and reliable passenger cars sold in America?

These cars were picked for a reason. And while the API-funded study highlights the fact that two of the eight engines tested failed while running E15 ethanol fuel, the testing parameters were such that failure was almost a garauntee. The study also fails to highlight the fact that one of the engines failed while running straight gasoline.

Funny, that.

The API was quick to condemn the two-and-a-half years and 6-million miles of engine testing the EPA did as “rushed.” But this study put the engines through just 500 miles of engine dyno testing. Furthermore, the API is one of those very vocal, far-right institutions constantly badgering the government about its prolonged environmental studies…but two and a half years to study engine durability on a new fuel blend is a rush job? Ugh.

The very notion that these engines failed on ethanol also makes it sound as though the engines blew up, when in fact “failure” was determined by a leakdown test of the cylinders and checking wear and tear on the valvetrain. So the engines still worked; they just didn’t quite match up to what the manufacturer’s suggested specifications were.  That is to be expected from engines that weren’t deliberately built to handle E15, even though five of the eight engines were just fine after running the supposedly corrosive fuel.

Don’t take my word for it though. Read the study for yourself and you decide if this all seems legit. And just remember that the EPA is NOT mandating the use of E15 ethanol; it is merely giving gas stations permission to sell the fuel. In other words, less government regulation.

But not when it eats into the profits of Big Oil, right?

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.