Spoiler Alert: Freddy Krueger Isn’t Real Either

Anyone who is part of the ethanol industry, especially those in market development, has been trying to fight off imaginary ethanol Freddy Kruegers, Jasons and Godzillas for decades. But there are no real technical or cost related reasons to fear E15.
By Ron Lamberty | October 29, 2020

I did that wrong, didn’t I? You’re supposed to say “spoiler alert” so people can stop reading and not have the result ruined for them, right? Kind of defeats the purpose when you put the actual spoiler right in the headline. Come to think of it, though, I probably didn’t spoil it for anyone. Most people already know, and the rest will choose not to believe what they read—or see with their own eyes—because it doesn’t fit their view of the world.

Happy Halloween, but the operative word in my headline is “either.” Anyone who is part of the ethanol industry, especially those in market development, has been trying to fight off imaginary ethanol Freddy Kruegers and Jasons and Godzillas for decades. By now, E10 has been used by so many people for long enough that we only occasionally have to argue its safety. But add another 5% ethanol and part of the petroleum marketer world loses its freaking marbles—and at times, some ethanol people sympathetically lose a few of theirs right along with them.

Remember, E15 was submitted for EPA approval because Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listings for equipment compatible with gasoline/ethanol blends specified up to 15% alcohol. Getting equipment UL listed for E10 required testing it with 15% ethanol, which is why some fuel equipment manufacturers have warrantied their equipment for 15% ethanol for 20 years or more. Testing with 15% alcohol is also why UL said they’d support local authorities (AHJs) who permitted use of UL listed E10 gasoline dispensers for E15 all the way back in early 2009.

It is a fact most existing retail fueling infrastructure is already compatible with E15, and yet I’m regularly contacted by ethanol supporters asking how we can help more small chain and single station owners who are terrified of the cost of the infrastructure they would need and unable to afford to take the risk.

If the cost was as high as they’ve been told it is, it would indeed be terrifying. Fortunately, like Freddy, those E15 cost monsters aren’t real either.

Station owners are terrified because they’re supposed to be terrified by the very real-appearing E15 capital expense monster created by the persistent anti-ethanol misinformation campaigns of API, AFPM, and oil companies. Their motives in stoking fear are simple—they don’t want to lose any more of “their” market. But petroleum marketer groups promote the horror stories, too. Why?

Maybe it’s because their members—the frightened station owners—have required EMV credit card upgrades due next spring and many have tanks reaching the end of 30-year warranties. Elected officials might see those as “costs of doing business.” But if petroleum marketer groups can parlay E15 infrastructure cost mythology with a fictitious “government E15 mandate,” they might get legislators to provide real government dollars they can use for those expenses unrelated to ethanol. (Sound far-fetched? Florida already did it.)

For our part, ACE is helping retailers reduce E15 fears with the recent addition of the Flex Check Compatibility tool to the flexfuelforward.com fuel marketer ethanol information website. Flex Check was created so curious station owners and operators can meander around the site on their own schedule and find out what they really need to be E15 compatible. Once they know the truth, some can print out documentation they’ll need, and at the very least, they’ll know what they need (and don’t need) to sell E15. It won’t be as scary as they expected.

Finally, my buddy Jae Woo Sim used to remind me what was right and true by repeatedly smacking my arm and saying, “Come on, Lambo. You know. You know!” You know, too. Get out and vote.


Author: Ron Lamberty
Senior Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol