Engineering News

US House Bill Would Force EPA to Test Science of E-15 Ruling
October 24, 2011

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Congressman James Sensenbrenner (Republican-Wisconsin) introduced a bill on Friday that would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get independent scientific review of its authorisation for 15% ethanol fuel blends.

The EPA's approval for nation-wide use of gasolines blended with 15% ethanol - known as E-15 - has been broadly opposed by the US refining industry and multiple other manufacturing sectors.

The US currently uses a 10% ethanol fuel blend, known as E-10, under a renewable fuels mandate.

However, controversy has surrounded the agency's approval of the higher E-15 mixture, with auto makers and engine manufacturers warning that E-15 will cause damage to many internal combustion engines and expose producers to liability lawsuits.

In decisions announced in [1]October last year and in [2]January this year, the EPA [3]approved the use of E-15 in cars and light trucks manufactured in 2001 and later, but the approval did not apply to older passenger vehicles, off-road and construction equipment, marine engines and gasoline-powered maintenance equipment such as chain saws.

Refiners and other trade groups have [4]filed suit in US federal court to block the EPA move, and [5]other legislation pending in Congress would reverse the agency's decision.

The bill introduced by Sensenbrenner, [6]HR-3199, would require the EPA to commission a thorough study of the effects of E-15 by the US National Academy of Sciences ([7]NAS) before implementing its E-15 rule.

The NAS is a taxpayer-funded agency that advises the federal government on science and technical issues, and its findings typically influence Congress.

"The EPA's decision to allow E-15 into the marketplace will impact every American who owns a car, lawnmower or boat," [8]Sensenbrenner said, adding that "Automakers insist that using E-15 will void warranties, lower fuel efficiency and cause premature engine failure".

"In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users," he said.

Sensenbrenner charged that the EPA failed to consider the full spectrum of scientific information about the consequences of E-15 use in automobiles and other engines.

"There are serious concerns that the EPA used only one Department of Energy test and rushed E-15's introduction into the marketplace," he said.

He said that the Energy Department test "was limited in scope and ignored a plethora of evidence - albeit inconvenient evidence for the EPA - that shows E-15 gasoline has a negative effect on engines".

Sensenbrenner said that his bill would ensure that "a decision of this magnitude will be vetted by independent scientific research, rather than political expediency".

Source: Chemical News & Intelligence

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