Auto group asks EPA to proceed slowly

By Holly Jessen | January 04, 2010
Posted Jan. 13, 2010

A group of 13 automotive and engine-related associations recently sent a letter, urging caution on the decision on whether to allow the use of E15.

The letter was sent out Jan. 6 to the U.S. EPA, U.S. DOE and The White House. It came from a group that represents 90 percent of retail gasoline providers, nearly all automobile manufactures and a large majority of motorcycle, marine and non-road equipment manufacturers in the U.S. market. The list includes the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute and National Association of Convenience Stores.

"As a diverse group of stakeholders who want biofuels to succeed in the U.S. and who remain committed to finding the right market solutions for sustainable biofuel use," the letter said, "we are writing to express our concern that EPA may decide to allow E15 based on limited or inadequate data."

The group emphasized the need for more testing of the effects of higher blends of ethanol on the existing fleet of vehicles. The completion of this testing would provide "statistically meaningful and defensible results", the letter said. With that information, the EPA can make a sound decision on emissions and whether to allow E15.

According to Matt Hartwig, communications director for the Renewable Fuels Association, this same group has long been trying to delay the process of approving E15 blends for conventional gasoline. While the EPA's announcement that it would delay that approval was disappointing for the ethanol industry, it should appease groups like this one.

When the EPA announced Dec. 1 that it would delay that approval, the RFA responded that it threatened to paralyze the growth of the ethanol industry and likely slow investments in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time.

"In order to avoid paralysis by analysis, EPA should immediately approve intermediate ethanol blends, such as E12," said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of RFA in a prepared statement. "Allowing for a 20 percent increase in ethanol's potential share of the market would provide some breathing room for the industry while EPA finishes its testing on E15. Additionally, it would represent a good faith gesture that underscores the commitment President Obama has pledged to biofuels."

The data out there has demonstrated that increased ethanol use in any vehicle doesn't cause ill effects, according to the RFA. And that information is the same, regardless of model year.
"The time for feet dragging is over," Hartwig said. "If the energy and economic goals of the RFS that Congress put forth are going to be achieved, we must allow of increased use of ethanol in all motor vehicles."

To read the letter to the EPA, visit.