EPA creeps up on E15

Despite the strenuous objections from every auto, motorcycle and small engine manufacturer in the United States, the Environmental Protection agency is pushing forward in its quest to ramp up the ethanol content in gasoline to 15 percent.

The agency announced today that it has “approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making E15.” That doesn’t mean E15 will be sold yet, but registration is a prerequisite and almost guarantees that E15 will become mandated in the near future.  It will be helped along by a tsunami of taxpayer dollars, what the EPA terms “grants, loans, and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels.”

The EPA admits that E15 is unsuitable for all small engines and trucks and cars built before 2001, but it has not addressed the complexities that will arise from having yet another grade of gasoline, and the separate storage tanks and pumps that go with that, installed at gas stations throughout the country.

The dangers of misfueling small equipment with E15 were pointed out by Kris Kiser, executive vice president of the Outdoor Power Institute, in testimony before Congress when he said E15 could cause “excessive engine heat, melting of plastic guards, fuel leaks, evaporative emissions issues, unintended early clutch engagement and permanant engine damage.

Nine automakers also testified to congress that they can’t honor warranties on older vehicles running on E15. And even environmental groups have come out against the use of any more ethanol in gasoline. The Environmental Working Group reports that corn based ethanol fuel biofuel is wasteful, inefficient and a misuse of taxpayers money. Other groups opposed to ethanol include the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Air Resources Board and the American Lung Association.

The Obama administration has set a goal to help fueling station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next five years.