Ethanol Coalition: Auto Engineers Expose EPA’s Oil Bias

John Davis

ACElogoA new paper from automotive engineers shows how the federal government has a bias toward Big Oil. Officials from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) praised a new Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) paper authored by experts from Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, and AVL Powertrain Engineering Inc. that concludes that emissions from higher ethanol blends are cleaner than gasoline, and the approach used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to estimate exhaust emissions, the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model, is biased in favor of oil.

“We applaud these Ford, General Motors, and AVL Powertrain engineers for exposing that EPA’s MOVES model is biased in favor of a result oil companies prefer and ignores the way gasoline is blended with ethanol in the real-world,” said [ACE Executive Vice President Brian] Jennings. “This is just the latest example of how Big Oil is twisting EPA’s arm to limit ethanol use. First, it appears EPA is about to completely rewrite the Renewable Fuel Standard to help oil companies avoid their legal responsibility to blend fuels, like E15 and E85, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, EPA is relying on a biased approach for estimating tailpipe emissions, remarkably making gasoline appear cleaner than ethanol.”

Theoretically, there are two ways to blend ethanol with gasoline to formulate fuel. The universal approach used to make nearly all U.S. gasoline (which is E10) is to mix additional ethanol or “splash blend” ethanol to a clearly-defined and consistent gasoline blendstock. The second approach, which EPA is following in the MOVES model, assumes oil companies will take advantage of the higher octane and oxygen content of ethanol and create an even lower-quality gasoline blendstock containing additional pollutants, resulting in a finished ethanol-gasoline blend that is dirtier than E10. That process, identified by the erroneously benign term “match blending,” allows oil companies to use carcinogenic hydrocarbons, so that no matter how much ethanol is added to the final product, the “allowable” base petroleum blendstock results in more tailpipe pollution.

The SAE paper says “the degradation of emissions which can result (from match-blending) is primarily due to the added hydrocarbons, but has often been incorrectly attributed to the ethanol.”

ACE also says the report shows that “blending ethanol at up to 30 percent by volume with an E10 blendstock should generally require only minimal changes in composition to meet ASTM D4814,” the standard specification for automotive engine fuel.

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