Engineering News

Coalition: Review Ethanol Industry's Bid for Higher Blend Levels
March 06, 2009

A coalition of health, environmental, food production and manufacturing groups called Friday for a thorough, science-based review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a petition to increase the level at which ethanol can be added to motor gasoline.

"American motorists and consumers cannot afford to have EPA's decision on whether to permit the use of ethanol blends higher than 10 percent in motor vehicle and smaller engines be guided by any factor other than sound and unbiased science," said a coalition of 14 organizations and trade associations.

Ethanol manufacturers want EPA to increase the maximum level of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to 12, 15 or even 20 percent, despite the possibility that more alcohol in the fuel could cause damage to motor vehicle and equipment engines, fuel handling systems, storage tanks, and pollution control and safety equipment.

"Our organizations collectively welcome an open and science-based evaluation of the possible use of mid-level ethanol blends in cars, motorcycles, boats, lawn mowers, generators, chain saws, and other gasoline-powered vehicles and equipment. This requires thorough, comprehensive research and testing to determine the potential environmental and safety impacts of the use of fuels with higher ethanol content.

"To date, there has not been sufficient testing of motor vehicle and nonroad equipment engines, such as outdoor power equipment and marine engines, to determine whether any mid-level ethanol blend would meet current federal air quality protection requirements or be safe for consumers to use. In fact, existing test results suggest that mid-level ethanol blends may not only be incompatible with most of today's motor vehicle and nonroad equipment engines, but may actually lead to increases in emissions from those engines over their lifetimes. These test results also raise significant consumer safety concerns, as mid-level ethanol blends may defeat engine safety features and may contribute to engine unreliability and malfunction.

"Consideration of an increase in the current federal legal limit on blending ethanol into gasoline must be undertaken through an open, public and transparent process that takes into account both the increased air pollution that will result from the use of higher ethanol blends in many engines and the potential risks to consumers of driving vehicles or handling engines fueled with these blends. Such transparency will ensure that all points of view, not just the interests of the promoters of mid-level ethanol blends, will be taken into account by EPA before deciding whether to permit these higher blends to be sold to consumers."

Members of the informal coalition include:

  • Association of International Automobile Manufacturers
  • Association of Marina Industries
  • Boat Owners Association of the United States
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Engine Manufacturers Association
  • Environmental Working Group
  • The Hispanic Institute
  • International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association
  • Motorcycle Industry Council, Inc.
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • National Petrochemical & Refiners Association
  • Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
  • Specialty Vehicle Institute of America

Source: National Petrochemical & Refiners Association

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