Ethanol Groups Dispute Petroleum Industry Claims

Cindy Zimmerman

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is using findings of a new report to try and dissuade the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from making a decision on the use of increased levels of ethanol in gasoline anytime in the near future.

The Sierra Research report commissioned by the national trade association that represents the oil industry found that “multiple regulatory and legal requirements remain and must be met before higher ethanol blends can be legally marketed for commercial introduction.” The report lists nine different requirements that must be met before the ethanol blend level can be increased from the current 10 to 15 percent. Those requirements include such things as a Clean Air Act waiver; registration of the fuel with EPA; changes to EPA Reformulated Gasoline regulations; and changes to EPA Gasoline Detergent Additive regulations.

Matt Hartwig with the Renewable Fuels Association agrees that those actions need to be taken before the fuel can be marketed, but disagrees that EPA should wait until they are all complete before it can approve the use of increased ethanol blends. “Those things need to be done and we’re already working on them” said Hartwig. “They can attempt to drag their feet until the cows come home but it won’t change the fact that E15 is a safe and effective fuel for vehicle use. Instead of constantly referring to the few challenges that can easily be overcome, it would be far more effective for Big Oil to work with ethanol producers to address them in a timely fashion – that is assuming they truly want to act in the best interests of American consumers.”

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says approval by EPA is the first step needed for the process to move forward. “In order for state laws and regulations regarding fuel specifications to be updated, the fuel must first be approved by the EPA,” said Buis. “We are not surprised that the people profiting from the status quo want to keep it that way. We have been dependent on foreign oil for 40 years- sending $300 billion a year overseas to other countries’ economies – and these delays will only perpetuate our addiction. The Growth Energy Green Jobs Waiver was accompanied by a sound body of science that overwhelmingly supports the use of E15 in existing vehicles. In fact, there has been more testing of E15 than there has been of any other fuel additive in the history of the EPA waiver process.”

API says some of the necessary requirements must occur prior to the initial sale of a new transportation fuel but some can be subsequently addressed. The period of time they estimate to be required for the completion of all of the above changes is “on the order of several years.”

Read API’s report here.

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