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E-Mail Campaign Countering E15 Ethanol Blended Gasoline

man carrying gas can
Are the benefits of ethanol blended gasoline fuzzy at best?
(cc) Dav Wasson

More than 22,000 Americans have e-mailed President Obama urging him to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from approving a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline until comprehensive, independent, and objective scientific testing can show that higher ethanol levels will not increase air pollution, harm engines, or raise consumer safety issues.

The 10-day e-mail campaign – called Say NO to Untested E15 – was organized by a diverse group of environmental, consumer, food, engine manufacturing, and other industry organizations that are often at odds on many issues but are united in their opposition to higher ethanol levels that have not been adequately tested.

The groups – and the people e-mailing President Obama – have raised serious concerns about the harmful effects that increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline could have on engine performance, safety, the environment, and food prices.

There has not been adequate testing to determine if increased ethanol in gasoline would cause costly damage to engines in the cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, lawn mowers, and other outdoor equipment powered by gasoline engines that millions of Americans use every day, the groups have said.

EPA, which has been pressured by some in the ethanol industry to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline from the current 10 percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15), has stated it will announce a decision later this month on whether to approve the use of E15 in late-model cars. All indications are that EPA is moving toward approval of the fuel mixture.

Individuals visiting the Web site www.FollowTheScience.org and Web sites of affiliated organizations in the Say NO to Untested E15 campaign sent the e-mails to President Obama urging him to intercede with EPA to prevent hasty and premature approval of E15.

Organizations backing the campaign earlier contacted members of Congress and other federal officials to raise their concerns. In addition, the campaign is sponsored an ad at Follow The Science stating in part: “Mr. President, EPA should wait for the completion of thorough and objective scientific tests, and act to protect our safety and our environment. We shouldn’t be asked to pump first and ask questions later.”

The Say NO to Untested E15 campaign points out that ethanol burns hotter than pure gasoline, corrodes soft metals, and damages plastics and rubber. As a result, more ethanol in gasoline could have serious effects on engine performance and raises potential safety concerns.

Some groups have asserted that the demand for more corn to produce ethanol has serious environmental effects and raises both food and feed prices. In addition, since ethanol produces less energy than gasoline, it drives down the number of miles a vehicle gets per gallon – meaning drivers must buy fuel more often. Misfueling – with a new higher ethanol fuel mix ending up in the wrong engine and causing damage – is another major concern.

Here are comments of officials representing some of the organizations supporting the e-mail campaign:

Mike Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers: “The testing needs to be completed on E15 to be sure it does not damage vehicles, increase vehicle emissions, result in poor performance, or cause safety problems before the government can make a fully informed decision. Some testing has been completed but other test programs won’t be completed for some time. EPA should not rush to judgment without waiting for complete results.”

Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association: “A partial approval of E15 will be an unfortunate outcome for consumers, the environment, and American manufacturers. Marine and other non-road engine products were not designed, built or warranted to run on any fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Ultimately, EPA is sacrificing air quality and consumer safety in order to bolster the struggling corn ethanol industry. In response, thousands of boaters across the country have asked the White House to follow the science on E15 – we can only hope that our federal officials listen.”

Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association: “We should not increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline until advanced biofuels have become commercially available and the ongoing testing of the effect on engines is completed. Although we strongly support the use of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, increasing the demand for conventional biofuels could divert nearly half of the U.S. corn crop from food and feed into fuel, increasing the volatility of food prices.”

Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association: “The fundamental issue here is consumer protection. Petroleum refiners take seriously our responsibility to manufacture high-quality gasoline and other fuels that meet consumer needs and are efficient, affordable, reliable and safe. EPA stands for the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Ethanol Promotion Agency, so it shouldn’t require us to produce untested products that could endanger consumers and might cause widespread engine damage.”

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