Ethanol Groups Frustrated Over E15 Delay

Cindy Zimmerman

Growth EnergyThe ethanol organization that filed the petition with the EPA to increase the ethanol blend rate to 15 percent has gotten very little information about why a decision is being delayed again.

“We’re trying to find out what additional tests have been added in,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis during a press conference today. “The people who filed the waiver should have been notified that they were adding new tests.”

The Environmental Protection Agency sent out the following short statement regarding the delay to selected reporters late Thursday that still has not been posted on the agency’s website:

DOE (Department of Energy) is on track to complete testing designed to determine the impact of higher ethanol blends on vehicles built after 2007 by the end of September. DOE is also testing some vehicles built before 2007 and is also testing tanks and other fuel handling equipment to see how they might be affected by E15. While results from the tests conducted to-date look good, EPA will not make a final decision until DOE completes its current comprehensive testing of the newer vehicles. EPA is taking steps to ensure the appropriate pieces are in place should the results of the complete set of tests be positive. Based on DOE’s schedule, EPA believes it will be able to make a final determination on whether to approve the use of higher ethanol blends this fall.

Buis believes the Department of Energy is causing the delay, not EPA. “Obviously this administration has been very strong supporters of renewable energy,” said Buis. “I would say this is not political, I would say we’re trapped in some bureaucratic maze here and we want to unravel it.”

Download the Growth Energy press conference
or listen here [audio:]

Renewable Fuels Association LogoRenewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen expressed frustration over the delay. “We think this is EPA being derelict in its duties,” said Dinneen in an audio statement. “They need to expedite this work and make sure consumers have options.”

Worse than the delay, in Dinneen’s opinion, is the indication that EPA is now talking about possibly approving E15 first in 2007 and newer vehicles, and then 2001 and newer. “Now they’re not talking about bifurcating the market, they’re talking about trifurcating the market!” said Dinneen. “This is just idiocy.”

Download Dinneen’s statement
or listen here [audio:]

ACEBrian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), also weighed in on the delay. “EPA is required by law to make a decision on the request to allow the use of cleaner burning blends of up to 15 percent ethanol, and by the time they actually make a decision, it will be a full year later than the law requires,” said Jennings in a statement. “Every addict needs enablers, but frankly we could not have imagined the Environmental Protection Agency would be one of the major defenders of the status quo that is now fouling beaches from Louisiana to Florida.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued a statement today putting a positive spin on the delay. “EPA is taking a significant step forward by discussing their timeline to expand E15 to vehicles,” said Vilsack. “This provides a roadmap to build a stronger domestic biofuels industry by creating a market to expand the use of ethanol in America. With this green light, USDA is surging ahead on our work to provide support to feedstock producers, biofuel refiners, and infrastructure installers, such as blender pumps, to ensure that all the pieces of the ethanol supply chain are ready to supply the market demand.”

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, Growth Energy, RFA, USDA