Ethanol industry pushes back against legislation to block E15

By Holly Jessen | February 15, 2013

On Feb. 14, U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and David Vitter, R-La., introduced legislation that would overturn U.S. EPA approval of E15 for model year 2001 and newer light duty vehicles.

The ethanol industry jumped in the fray quickly, with the Renewable Fuels Association saying the oil industry is panicked, fighting to preserve its monopoly, tax credits and record-breaking profits. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw called the bill a “big, wet kiss” for the oil industry, calling attention to the fact that the bill was introduced on Valentine’s Day. “Banning a legal product from competing with foreign oil is the ultimate in big government, nanny-state protectionism for the coddled petroleum industry,” he said. “I guess we should no longer be surprised by the lengths Big Oil will go to protect its federal petroleum mandate. E15 is a legal fuel for American motorists to choose, but Big Oil doesn’t want consumers to have that choice.”

If approved, the bill would prohibit the EPA from approving gasoline that contains greater than 10 percent ethanol. Wicker called the E15 waivers flawed and shortsighted. Vitter mentioned the possibility of misfueling, which he said was a concern whether a consumer drives a car, truck, boat, or tractor. “It is irresponsible for EPA to allow E15 without sufficient testing and technical analysis,” he said. “I support an all-inclusive energy strategy, but experimenting before understanding the consequences and potential cost of using E15 is unfair to consumers.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of RFA, countered that E15 is the most tested fuel in history. E15’s benefits include reduced toxins and carcinogens in gasoline, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and savings at the gas pump for consumers.

Although the Coordinating Research Council, a non-profit organization funded by automobile and oil companies, has come out with reports claiming E15 causes potential engine problems and fuel system components, the accuracy of those reports has been called into question. In fact, Patrick Davis, DOE Vehicle Technologies Program Manager, wrote a blog posted to the U.S. DOE website that called the results of the first report “significantly flawed.”

The Fuels America coalition also condemned the anti-renewable fuel legislation, saying it would take away consumer choice in order to protect oil companies. “The legislation ignores the millions of miles and years of testing that went into the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of E15,” the group said in a prepared statement. “In fact, E15 is the most tested fuel ever, having been put through the paces enough times to make 12 round trips to the moon.”

The group pointed out that Ford and General Motors have said their new vehicles are compatible with E15. NASCAR also uses E15. “Instead of protecting oil companies, Congress should address what is actually hurting America families and businesses: high gas prices and dependence on oil,” the group said. “Americans deserve a choice when it comes to how they power their cars and trucks, and we need the economic benefits that increasing our use of renewable fuel will continue to deliver.” 



10 Responses

  1. Bill Wieger



    Where is succient information to serve as useful discussion counterpoints when issues about etnanol in gas develop, such as the benefit of non-ethanol gas. Often heard at aircraft meetings, and regarding small equipment. I an invested in alcohols, but don't know where to find effective info.

  2. Bob Davis



    I have heard from the local repair shops and found they are experiencing problems with ethanol blended fuels. The whole story is not getting out, clouded by hyped retoric. Did you know Chicago has Ozone hazard days during hot weather because the ethanol in the gasoline is producing Ozone at a higher level(which is a truly dangerous pollutant)? Regardless, I'm behind banning any requirement for ethanol. Let the producers produce and distribute according to customer demand (which is not driving this process). This is not banning (hyperbola used by Big Ethanol), but capping the percentage of ethanol in gasoline. Let's ban all government regulations on ethanol use and let the American people decide!

  3. Steve VG



    Bill & Matison The issue of ethanol in gasoline is complex to fully understand but let me first say that most of the information being put out in the media against ethanol is primarily driven to protect the oil industry’s market share. Forecast for gasoline usage is not expected to grow and some estimates are saying that future US gasoline demand may shrink. API and big oil has used food verses fuel very effectively yet few people hear about the protein value from the ethanol plant that still put food on the table. I have collected hundreds of SAE papers (Society of Automotive Engineering), Fuels Journal papers and government funded studies. I could provide some negative studies like CRC E67 but then point out that fuel blending rather than ethanol was the issue for mixed results. Other studies that simply add ethanol show favorable results but then one should ask if this is consumer fuels or EPA test fuels. The benefit today with simply adding ethanol to E10 would provide value to the consumer. Today, most gasoline includes 10 percent ethanol since the oil refineries make a cheaper gasoline that needs ethanol just to meet minimum octane standards. Most people have been told that octane doesn’t matter which isn’t exactly true. Premium offers no more energy than Regular but you would likely see slightly better mileage and better performance, especially for highway driving. Buying Premium won’t help your cost per mile since the mileage benefits doesn’t overcome the 25 to 40 cent price difference. Allowing the consumer to choice a higher octane fuel like E15 by simply adding ethanol to E10 would provide better than mid-grade octane yet cost less per gallon today. It is very possible that many consumers will not see a mileage penalty with E15 though it is roughly 1.5 percent less energy. All this negative press later isn’t about protecting the consumer for if it was, people would also hear about some of the components found in gasoline that shouldn’t be put in your gas tank, which come out the tailpipe as unseen small particulates. People should hear about some of the studies that show the US gasoline market not as clean as some would think. Correct information is needed but finding reputable sources is difficult to filter through. Steve Vander Griend

  4. Steve Vander Griend



    To Bob Davis, I just posted the previous comment and then I see yours. Your comments about ethanol being the source for increasing Ozone are absolutely false. The ozone is hugely affected by SVOC's and I can show you plenty of data to supporting that along with UFP’s (Ultra-Fine Particulate) promoting more SOA (Secondary Organic Aerosols). Is there an issue with gasoline blending today, you bet. Is ethanol the reason for increased Ozone formation and health effects surrounding the UFP and PAH issues, NO. There will be some very informative SAE papers this April that will support these comments let alone all the studies already available is one does the research. One of the biggest complaints I hear when visiting small engine repair shop is the carbon build up they are seeing. Ask yourself if these high end aromatics and the 1 to 2 percent of gasoline that is classified as residue is not the biggest issue surrounding gasoline quality today. Steve Vander Griend




    Please take the time to ask a local repair shop that works on small engines about the issues with gasoline now compared to several years back. ANY of you had to replace a carb or have to replace piston and cylinder because of fuel induced problems? Material compatibility with the ethanol and the moisture that is absorbed cause problems in and to the carb. A lean condition will eventually happen with the combustion and create higher temperatures that the piston and cylinder ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR!!!!!! AUTOS ARE NOT THE ONLY PRODUCT THAT USE GASOLINE. Seems that moonshiners have to use certain materials to build a still!

  6. Steve VG



    Mike, I have visited small engine repair facilities and auto shops. Small engines are approved for E10 so the change in fuel flow is 3% which is still fuel rich for small air cooled engines. Small engines will run a few degrees hotter on E10 than E0 as per the studies yet still approved by the manufacturer, on road vehicles will run cooler on the other hand due to cooling effect. We have a lot of issues out there today, on and off road and I seem most of them as prone to fail no matter what fuel is in the tank, though ethanol is usually blamed.

  7. Dashulya



    Look at your tachometer, the RPM's of your eninge. The less revolutions your eninge is doing the less gas it is using example:I drive a stick, I could go 30 MPH in 1st gear and have the tachometer read 9000 RPM's meaning the eninge is going through 9000 cycles per min to move the car 30 MPH. However if I shift up to 6th gear, the car is still traveling at 30 MPH and the tachometer reads about 1000 RPM's meaning the eninge is only doing 1000 cycles per min higher RPM's = more gas being usedThis is possible because of the gear ratio .since you have a corolla and its automatic notice when you get up to around 65-70 MPH where the tachometer is at, slow down until it is as low as it will go before shifting down to the next gear ..meaning go 65 try slowing down notice how the tachometer will go from a low number, then when you hit a certain speed, it will shift down a gear, giving you higher RPM's (more gas being used) .However on the highway your car will prolly be in the highest gear so slow down to a speed where the tachometer is at the lowest number and you are traveling at a decent speed ..I hope all this made sense lol

  8. Charles



    The fact is that since July 2007 the mandatory blend of all fuel in Brazil is 25% ethanol and 75% gasoline or E25 regardless of the age of the car. It is true that the combustion of ethanol does produce more heat. Most liquid cooled engines wont even notice. Air cooled engines will tend to run hotter. Brazil still manufactures air cooled VW buses and bugs. VW redesigned the cylinder heads to accomidate this extra heat in the late 1970's. Brazil makes it work, why cant we?

  9. MS22



    Charles, the combustion of ethanol does not produce as much heat as gasoline. Ethanol does has a lower BTU content so there is less heat energy. Engines cylinder compression would need to be increased if drivers want to use E50-E85 and get similar/equal mileage to gasoline. Blends around E20-E30 get equal or even better mileage than gasoline. The US can increase blends past 20%, but there are too many ill-informed citizens and politicians who buy into big oils negative propaganda of ethanol.

  10. Mark



    I have a fishing charter business and ethanol has clogged and eaten fuel lines.I have replaced the filters with 1/2 in by 1/2 ethanol solidified in the bottom of it.This fuel can hurt (kill) people if the engine quits in the Ocean! Especially when it breaks loose and clogs injectors. This fuel causes expensive maintenance every year.I am at a loss as the people in charge would allow this to happen. Most people with cars do not notice because they go though fuel constantly, while boats have down months.


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