Critics of E15 Waiver Approval Cry Foul

Joanna Schroeder

While the ethanol industry is busy applauding the EPA for its ‘step in the right direction’ in approving E15 for use in 2007 or newer cars or light duty trucks, other groups are crying out in dismay and criticizing the EPA for its decision. One group that is outraged by EPA’s move is the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NRPA) and Executive Vice President Gregory M. Scott wasted no time in announcing his organization’s displeasure.

“The Environmental Protection Agency today abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation’s public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency. EPA’s unwise and premature decision to allow the sale of gasoline with higher levels of ethanol may be good politics in Corn Belt states on the eve of the midterm elections, but it is bad news for every American who owns a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, lawnmower, chainsaw or anything else powered by gasoline,” said Scott.

What Scott failed to mention in his tirade is that the EPA did not approve E15 for other model years or other types of vehicles including small engines, marine equipment and motorcycles.

“The ethanol industry has won a victory today by convincing the federal agency charged with protecting our nation’s public health and environment to disregard public safety and environmental issues and instead base a major policy decision on inadequate engine test data that has not been made public or reviewed independently. The American people are the losers today because EPA has violated President Obama’s 2009 commitment to them to put science ahead of politics.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson communicated, through EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy, that the decision was made after review of the Department of Energy’s extensive testing and other available data on E15’s impact on engine durability as well as emissions as the Clean Air Act requires them to do. The result, said EPA, is that E15 is find for use in conventional vehicles or light duty trucks manufactured in 2007 or later.

A coalition of farm and food industry trade associations that are members of the same choir group as NRPA wasted no time in creating a false panic among American consumers that there will be a competition between food and fuel, an argument that has been squished by dozens of global research organizations, and even went so far as to question whether the EPA had legal authority to make the decision.

“E15 – which would be a 50 percent increase from the currently permitted level of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline – will result in dramatic increases in the portion of the U.S. corn crop used to make fuel rather than food and, when fully implemented, could result in more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop being diverted to ethanol production. The corn ethanol industry has received over $30 billion in federal subsidies over the last three decades,” said the coalition in a prepared statement.

The coalition continued by stating that, “The EPA’s decision will have an impact on American farmers, food manufacturers and, most importantly, American consumers, who will face price increases at the grocery store and when they go out to eat in a restaurant. EPA took this step without sufficient regard for the inevitable effect on the price of food and feed.”

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