ACE compares AAA's E15, low-octane fuel responses

By Erin Voegele | January 08, 2013

The American Coalition for Ethanol has reacted to the American Automobile Association’s criticism of E15 by comparing and contrasting the organization’s response to E15 with that of its response to the sale of 85 octane gas in South Dakota. In a Jan. 7 letter to AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet, ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty accuses the organization of being biased in favor of Big Oil.

“My personal belief that AAA was biased toward Big Oil and against ethanol led me to drop my long-held AAA membership several years ago and these latest E15 attacks serve as further evidence of the suspicious double standard AAA applies between ethanol and oil,” Lamberty said in the letter.

In a statement released in December, AAA noted that one of its primary concerns associated with E15 is how use of the fuel may impact vehicle warrantees since the fuel may not comply with fuel requirements specified in owner’s manuals.

 Lamberty, however, stresses that AAA’s didn’t even publically respond to the sale and use of low octane gas in South Dakota.  “Unlike the alarm it issued when E15 was available for purchase in a handful of stations,” Lamberty said. “AAA offered no warning about an untested un-approved fuel that is already in use in literally thousands of gas stations. AAA has not advised motorists that they should be very careful when buying gasoline in South Dakota. AAA said nothing about the possibility that vehicle warranties would be voided by using sub-octane fuel that doesn’t comply with the information in their owners’ manuals.”

In fact, Lamberty points out that in 2007, the AAA actually recommended that motorists try the substandard fuel, but to switch to higher octane fuel if they hear engine pinging. “Rather than warn people about the non-compliant fuel made by oil companies, AAA said essentially ‘use it until it hurts.’ No dire warnings, warranty comments, or press releases as in the case of E15,” said Lamberty in the letter. “The hypocrisy of turning a blind eye and most likely allowing people to shorten the lives of their vehicles by using unapproved and untested oil-company produced sub-octane gasoline for decades, while loudly attacking thoroughly tested and approved E15 when only a few stations are offering it for sale, is quite unbecoming for an organization that claims it puts the best interests of the American motorist first.”

A full copy of Lamberty’s letter can be downloaded from the ACE website.