A Good Time For Truth

AAA's claims about E15 don't stack up to the facts, writes Ron Lamberty of ACE. With the help of two motor clubs, that organization helped reveal the truth just like Scooby-Doo and his friends do in the cartoons.
By Ron Lamberty | November 21, 2014

Just before Halloween, the American Coalition for Ethanol got to do what Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers got to do every Saturday morning when I was a kid. We got to prove that monsters aren’t real, and that most of the time, they’re fabricated by someone with a self-serving agenda who scares people because the truth isn’t on his side. It was just like we were those “meddling kids” and their big talking dog, Scooby-Doo.

Actually, it was Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, owners of Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing, who pulled the mask off the monster created by AAA. Hammond and Muncey heard the warnings of AAA about E15, and began monitoring their organizations’ service call records, and after two years, found nothing. In an Oct. 27 press release the two clubs, with 18 million members in 50 states, said that since E15 became available in the marketplace, none of their members has reported a problem related to E15.

Two years earlier, AAA said they were concerned that consumers would be confused by the new blend. Rather than helping educate drivers about safe use of E15, however, AAA instead added to the confusion by parroting talking points from rigged and deliberately misinterpreted studies, spoon-fed to them by Big Oil. AAA recently repeated its call for the suspension of E15 sales, even as the number of vehicles built and warrantied for use of E15 went from 3 million to 16 million. Along with 17 million-plus flex-fuel vehicles, 15 percent of the car and light truck market can already use E15 under warranty.

Meanwhile, real-world findings of Travelers and AMCM motor clubs mirror what fuel station owners who sell E15 have been saying. They’ve had no customer complaints, no breakdowns and no repair bills from drivers who fill up with E15. In fact, because E15 is a higher octane fuel that costs less than regular fuel, stations with E15 are adding customers and E15 has become the second highest volume fuel in most of the stations that sell it.

That fact alone—that E15 is the second highest volume fuel—proves that AAA’s misfueling concerns were misplaced. The real reason groups are worried about E15 misfueling is they think drivers will buy E15 because it costs less. But if that theory were correct, and price were all that matters, E15 would be the highest seller at those stations, not second.

Shortly before the Travelers and AMCM announcement, a lawsuit containing similar anti-E15 claims, filed by Big Oil, automakers and the boat and small engine lobby, was thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In its terse ruling, the court pointed out—several times—that there was no evidence to support claims of misfueling or damage and at one point called claims against E15 “conjectural” and “hypothetical.” That’s judge-speak for “making stuff up.”

It’s been more than two years since the first station started selling E15. With as much time and money as the oil and engine groups have spent on creating their E15 horror story, if there were any cars stranded because of E15, or a single warranty claim denied because of E15, we would know about it. The cars and their drivers would be household names. But they aren’t, because they don’t exist. E15 ghosts and monsters aren’t real. And the Freds, Daphnes, Velmas, and Shaggys continue to pull the masks off the imposters. The latter half of October was a good time for the truth, and hope remains that truth will win out over fear-mongering. Just as it did every Saturday morning.

Author: Ron Lamberty
Senior Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol
[email protected]