EPA decision on E15 waiver is a good start but not the answer

The EPA’s decision on a partial waiver for E15 use (blend of 15% corn ethanol and 85% unleaded gasoline) in light-duty motor vehicles was announced last week. Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association were pleased that action had finally been taken following the March 2009 petition increase the blend level, but the ethanol supporters also feel that EPA missed an opportunity to spur growth for alternative fuels by failing to recognize E12 in 2010.

The current limit of corn ethanol blended with gasoline is 10 percent (E10), as set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is an arbitrary cap. All cars manufactured after 1980 can use E10 gasoline. Because of corn ethanol’s several advantages compared to petroleum, a proposal to increase corn ethanol limits at fuel stations nationwide is being considered. However, if approved, E15 will be approved for vehicles manufactured after 2007 only. This new arbitrary cap is not a mandate, but an allowable level of ethanol blended with gasoline.

“The EPA’s inefficiency in timely addressing increased blends for vehicles, as well as its potential acceptance of E15 for vehicles only newer than 2007 and not the full E15 waiver, has been counterproductive for the quest to become energy independent,” said Dwayne Siekman, Ohio Corn Growers Association executive director.

The wording of the proposed label on the newly approved E15 is also a concern. The proposed label in Orange reads. “Caution! Use only in: 2007 and newer gasoline cars, 2007 and newer light duty trucks, flex fuel vehicles. This fuel might damage other vehicles. Federal law prohibits its use in other vehicles.”

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