News that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is further delaying a decision on approving the use of up to 15% (E15) ethanol blends is as much disappointing as it is a dereliction of duty, says the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
Adding insult to injury, EPA is preparing to approve E15 use for only model year 2007 and newer vehicles in September, while waiting to approve E15 for model year 2001 and newer vehicles later this fall. The RFA has repeatedly challenged EPA to provide any justification for such a decision, but the agency has yet to do so. This proposed trifurcation would further and unnecessarily confuse the issue.
“EPA is dropping the ball, and for no scientifically justified reason,” says RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While initial plans to approve the use of E15 for only 2001 and newer vehicles were bad, this plan borders on shameful. Confusing the market as EPA seems intent upon doing likely will lead to little if any additional ethanol being sold.”
Dinneen continues, “President Obama this week rallied the nation to an Apollo-like program to end our dependence on oil. By pursuing this path, EPA is failing to answer the president’s charge.”
Allowing up to E15 blends, up from current 10% limits, would mean a potential increase of 6.5 billion gallons of new ethanol demand, displacing more than 200 million additional barrels of imported oil.
Equally frustrating as the current plan is EPA’s failure to consider calls to immediately approve the use of 12% ethanol blends. Existing oxygenate stacking rules would allow for it. Specifically, current “stacking” rules allow for the addition of up to 2% MTBE on top of currently allowed 10% ethanol blends. As ethanol and MTBE are both oxygenates, this additional 2% volume could be ethanol. In practice, a vehicle engine would not recognize if the oxygen content was from one fuel or two.

To hear more from Dinneen, listen to his podcast.