The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Don't Blend Politics and Science on E15

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 19, 2010

Most of the gasoline we use includes up to 10 percent of ethanol, a renewable fuel that is playing an increasingly important role in meeting our energy needs. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a plan that could permit blends of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15), despite the fact that a number of detailed scientific reviews of such a plan have not been completed.

This would be a mistake that could threaten vehicle performance and safety, void manufacturers' warranties, confuse consumers - and create a public backlash against renewable fuels.

Higher-level ethanol blends like E15 have not been proven safe or effective according to preliminary testing to date. These studies are scheduled to be completed in 2011. In addition, EPA is in the midst of the scientific review mandated by the Clean Air Act before new fuels, additives or fuel blends are introduced into commerce.

Despite these ongoing studies, EPA has indicated it may act as soon as September to approve E15 in vehicles. This has alarmed lawmakers and ordinary citizens alike. In July, the House Energy Committee warned EPA that renewable fuels must be introduced in "a manner that adequately protects consumers." A broad coalition of business, consumer and environmental groups also wrote EPA expressing similar concerns.

API is working to implement renewable fuels blending mandates. The United States needs all sources of commercially viable energy, and biofuels are an important resource. Our industry is the largest purchaser of ethanol, and has invested more than $13 billion in biofuels.

But we believe that sound science - not politics - must guide this important decision. Any EPA action this year, before all necessary studies are completed, would be premature and could jeopardize the government's efforts to promote acceptance of renewable fuels.

Consumers need to be assured that the gasoline they purchase will not damage vehicles, void warranties or erode air quality gains. And we as an industry want to continue producing safe and reliable fuels for consumers now and into the future.

Editors note: Jack Gerard sent this message yesterday to individuals signed up to receive Energy Tomorrow e-mail communications. For more information, listen to this podcast about EPA's plan to raise the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.