Oil industry says EPA “rushed to judgment” on E15

Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

As E15 inches closer to being available around the country, the American Petroleum Institute is accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of not doing its homework before approving the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol.

An API-funded review of studies on equipment compatibility with E15 produced sobering results, according to Bob Greco, the Institute’s Director for Downstream and Industry Operations.

“An estimated half of the existing retail outlet equipment is not compatible with E15,” Greco said. “Unfortunately it may be hard for a station to know if its equipment is or is not compatible. This could discourage many of the nation’s 157,000 gasoline retail outlets from selling E15.”

Without a market for higher ethanol blends, Greco said the federal biofuels mandate could result in higher compliance costs or production constraints that could place upward pressure on gasoline prices for consumers.

API says EPA has done an inadequate job of answering questions surrounding E15, in particular dispensing equipment and other infrastructure implications. The Obama Administration plans to fund the installation of 10,000 blender pumps at retail fueling stations over the next 5 years.  Prentiss Searles, API’s Marketing Issues Manager, said that addresses only part of the problem.

“A gas station is more than the dispenser,” Searles said. “It is all of the underground storage tanks and everything that goes in to making that system, so even if you have the dispensers upgraded to be able to blend E15, you still haven’t addressed all of the other issues of concern that deal with environmental protection and safety for the consumer.”

The oil and auto industries have filed suit in federal court to overturn EPA’s approval of E15.

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