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E15 concerns

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Various industry groups are urging the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to refrain from making a decision on the use of increased levels of ethanol in gasoline until testing on the effects of higher level blends is complete. Based on the findings by Sierra Research in a report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API), ‘Identification and Review of State/Federal Legislative and Regulatory Changes Required for the Introduction of New Transportation Fuels,’ multiple regulatory and legal requirements remain and must be met before higher ethanol blends can be legally marketed for commercial introduction.


‘Our study found that the introduction of higher level blends into the marketplace is not simple or straightforward. There are many changes that need to be made to federal, state and local requirements as well as issues with vehicle warranties and the country’s fuel distribution and marketing infrastructure,’ according to Jim Lyons, a Senior Partner at Sierra Research. ‘EPA needs to recognise and consider these issues in addition to waiting for all of the emissions and performance data to be collected.’

The EPA’s decision to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15) is slated for this fall, prior to the completion of extensive tests on E15 being carried out by the oil and auto industries.

Before now transportation fuels are introduced into the marketplace, consumers need reliable scientific data on the safety and performance effects of ethanol blends on vehicles and the environment. Higher levels of ethanol have not been proven safe or effective based on testing to date.

‘The auto and oil industries are evaluating the effects of higher level ethanol blends on vehicle and engine durability and performance, and DOE and API are investigating the changes to the retail gasoline station equipment that an E15 waiver would necessitate,’ said Al Mannato, fuels issues manager at API. ‘A flawed implementation of higher level ethanol blends would impact the success of biofuels moving forward, and it’s imperative all testing be completed first.’

Additionally, EPA is in the midst of carrying out a detailed scientific review, as mandated by the Clean Air Act, before these new fuels can be introduced into commerce. This review, including soliciting public comment from all stakeholders on the introduction of mid level ethanol blends, must include the testing that we believe will help protect consumers.

‘We’re committed to seeing renewable fuels properly integrated into the energy mix, and look forward to continuing to work with the EPA to see that it’s done with the backing of the best science and completed testing,’ said Al Mannato.

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