As you have probably seen, the usual cadre of suspects that have opposed the use of E15 and other ethanol blends above 10% are at it again. In an oddly timed letter today, this group led by Big Oil, multinational junk food processors, and corporate livestock interests wrote to EPA to assert their heartfelt belief that E12 (a 12% ethanol blend) should not be approved. (One would think their opposition to ethanol in general would have led to this conclusion, but they are not ones to let an opportunity to belittle renewable fuels go by.)
In response to this letter, the RFA noted: “EPA has all the data and authority it needs to approve the use of E12 today. For that matter, EPA has all the data it needs to approve the use of E15 for all vehicles instead of this ill-advised bifurcated approach it is pursuing. I suspect these groups would oppose a resolution in support of Mothers’ Day if the mothers agreed it was time to develop renewable fuels. Simply saying no isn’t a solution, but it is increasingly clear they are not in the business of solution. Their goal is to continue America’s reliance on oil despite the dangers to our economy, our environment, and our security that it poses.”
In addition, a for-profit website company, Edmunds.com, wrote to EPA asking them to consider consumers in their decision to “dilute U.S. gasoline with as much as 15% ethanol, up 50% from the current maximum”, as if that wasn’t part of what is taking EPA so long to come to a decision. In its press release, this self-professed premier online resource for automotive information failed to provide its readers with fully accurate information. Specifically, it questioned why EPA would act before testing is complete (which EPA is not, at least in its current bifurcated market approach). It also asked EPA to at least allow it as an additional grade of gasoline. On both of these questions, the people at Edmunds are misinformed.
First, this waiver request would allow for up to 15% ethanol and does not mandate fuel contain 15% ethanol. Retailers would be free to offer any blend up to 15% they chose.
Second, test after test, study after study has proven E15 to be a safe and effective fuel. Instead of using words like “dilute” in its press statement, this group ought to be informing its readers about the true benefits of ethanol, including its high performance characteristics and ability to reduce air pollution resulting from tailpipe emissions.
Further, to Edmunds concern about fuel mileage, the reduction would be modest at most and unnoticeable to people who drive on E10 blends today.
This coordinated attack on increasing ethanol blends smells a bit sulfuric, as in it wreaks of Big Oil involvement. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the fossil fuel industry is spending $500 million a year to thwart renewable fuel policies on Capitol Hill.
But hey, what’s $500 million when you have to spend at least $20 billion to clean up your mess in the Gulf?