Home / Country Life / A drive to debunk the oil industry’s E15 claims

A drive to debunk the oil industry’s E15 claims

When Iowans Monte Shaw and T.J. Page made a stop in Central Ohio to refuel their 2006 Jeep Compass on Oct. 2, they were half way to their destination point of Washington D.C. The purpose of the trek was to put some of the oil industry’s claims about E15 to a real world test.

“Big Oil is trying to scare consumers and mislead Congress,” said Shaw, the Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “If you take a look at the facts, the claims that E15 will not work in engines just don’t add up.”

For a little background, the oil industry did some research where they evaluated cylinder leakage in cars that run on E15. They concluded that E15 might cause damage to millions of engines and leave those vehicles stranded by the side of the road. When Iowa RFA took those results to high authority mechanics, they were told that every car that has been on the road for a period of time will show these symptoms, regardless of the fuel it’s running on. The goal of this road trip by the Iowa RFA to the Nation’s Capitol was to highlight the disconnect between Big Oil’s irresponsible E15 rhetoric based on a meaningless test parameters and the real world. They thought it was time to share some test results of their own.

“We did a very similar test using the same amount of cars and ran them on E10,” Shaw said. “Two hundred and forty millions cars run on E10 every day with no problems, so we knew that if we found the same type of cylinder leakage results in our test, that would show that the problem is not with E15, it is with Big Oil’s test. That was indeed the case.”

Shaw said if the oil industry was telling the truth, the vehicle they were driving from Des Moines to D.C. simply wouldn’t make it.

“This car has plenty of power and runs just fine,” Shaw said. “Big Oil wants you to believe that if this same car was running on E15 instead of E10 it would magically stop on the side of the road. They are smart people, they know they are misleading Congress and that is truly frustrating.”

Monte Shaw and T.J. Page are made their way to D.C. to set Congress straight on some false claims about E15
Monte Shaw and T.J. Page stopped in Columbus on their way to D.C.

Some may question why they continue eastward to a town that is literally closed for business. Shaw said he hopes to use that to an advantage since there isn’t much else going on inside the Beltway. He has invited members of Congress and their staff to take a look, firsthand, that his vehicle made the trip that the oil industry said it couldn’t do. Visitors will even be invited to take the vehicle for a spin.

The government shutdown has had many ill effects, but what might it mean to the Renewable Fuels Standard in particular?

“We are waiting to see what the 2014 requirements are going to be with the EPA,” Shaw said. “That process will obviously be delayed with the close of Washington.”

The shutdown is causing a slow down in getting retailers registered to sell E15. Retailers have to send a letter in to the EPA to ask for registration. With every moment that goes by with nothing allowed to happen in D.C., the stack of requests from future E15 retailers is growing and won’t even be considered until Congress funds the government and Washington is back in business.


  1. I support the higher use of ethanol for newer cars but the need for non ethanol fuel for older cars, tractors @ yard equipment needs to be addressed.

  2. The true answer to this debate is to use engines designed to run on high ethanol fuels. One has been designed by a British firm with backing from both the US and Brazilian ethanol producers. It is very high compression like a diesel but does not have the emission problems of ether the diesel or the low compression gasoline engines. It is also gets better fuel mileage. Their tests have shown a 70% increase in fuel mileage. It is better then the compressed natural gas being promoted by big oil and the North American auto industry.

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