October 13, 2010

EPA's decision on E15 a first step forward

When more than 5,000 Nebraska farmers sent postcards to the Environmental Protection Agency urging approval of fuel blends up to 15 percent ethanol (e15) for all vehicles, the hope was it would happen quickly and for all vehicles.

EPA, however, took a bit longer and then today, as expected, approved the waiver request to use up to e15 only for 2007 and newer vehicles. Click here for the release and other information. Approval for 2001 and new vehicles should happen later this year.

While the approval is welcomed – and backs the industry's points that ethanol can certainly be used in vehicles on the road today – it is just the first step that needs to happen before we'll ever see e15 at any pumps. Pump labeling, other regulatory changes, refiners who supply the fuel and a commitment by retailers to sell it will need to happen first.

It may also make fuel blender pumps more attractive since fuel retailers can more quickly reprogram them to provide different fuel blends – like e10, e15, e30 and e85.

While sometimes you can't get from point A to B without a few intermediate steps, hopefully this intermediate step won't create additional confusion in the marketplace – and hopefully sometime next year we'll find e15 at a growing number of pumps, allowing millions of motorists to kick another 5 percent of dirty oil out of their gas tanks.

Unfortunately, the anti-ethanol gang will do its best to ignore the science, muddy the process and use scare tactics while bending the truth (...a half truth is a whole lie...). Of course their only alternative to petroleum is more petroleum (big surprise), and they continue to argue for the biggest tax increase in history for biofuels. They aren't exactly the type of folks that offer real solutions anyway – they just keep cashing checks.

Links to industry responses:

  • The National Corn Growers Association noted the approval was a good start – but is incomplete. It asked for more action quickly.
  • Growth Energy, who filed the original petition, said it was an "important first step" – but also added that more needs to be done.
  • “EPA’s scientifically unjustified bifurcation of the U.S. car market will do little to move the needle and expand ethanol use today,” RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement. “Limiting E15 use to 2007 and newer vehicles only creates confusion for retailers and consumers alike. America’s ethanol producers are hitting an artificial blend wall today. The goals of Congress to reduce our addiction to oil captured in the Renewable Fuels Standard cannot be met with this decision.”
  • The American Coalition for Ethanol noted that, “While some will portray this partial E15 waiver as a major victory and others will suggest it is completely unworkable, the truth lies somewhere in between. ACE views it as a very small first step and we will work to try and make the best of it."

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