The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Why the Rush to E15?

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 1, 2010

Why is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in such a hurry to grant a waiver allowing E15 to be sold in the marketplace?

E15 is a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. At present, only blends containing up to 10 percent ethanol are permitted, but ethanol producers are pushing for higher ethanol content. EPA has indicated it will make a decision on E15 this fall, despite the fact that scientific research on the fuel won't be completed until 2011.

Now a new study urges caution, saying that the introduction of this new fuel blend is more complicated than it might appear on the surface. The study, conducted by Sierra Research and commissioned by API, says:

"There are many changes that need to be made to federal, state, and local requirements as well as issues with vehicle warranties and the country's fuel distribution and marketing infrastructure..."

Furthermore, the study advises EPA to slow down and wait "for all of the emissions and performance date to be collected."

Sierra Research and API aren't alone in their concern over E15. Several trade associations representing the meat industry, boaters, grocery and dairy manufacturers, refiners, environmentalists and others believe Congress and the administration should wait until the E15 research is completed. They want to be sure that gasoline supplies containing more than 10 percent ethanol will not pose a risk to the environment, engines or rural communities.

Ethanol's properties are well known. It is corrosive and can cause engine damage; it can't be shipped through standard oil pipelines because it has an affinity to water; and it can corrode parts within the gasoline delivery system including pumps, possibly causing a safety hazard. Research being conducted now by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) will determine whether it's safe to market E15.

Listen to this podcast about E15 featuring Al Jessel, co-chair of the Coordinating Research Council.

If EPA approves the E15 waiver without waiting for the research findings, it could jeopardize the nation's efforts to add ethanol to the gasoline pool. "A flawed implementation of higher level ethanol blends would impact the success of bio-fuels moving forward," API's Fuels Issues Manager Al Mannato said, "and it's imperative that all testing be completed first."

API is committed to integrating renewable fuels into the nation's fuel supplies and looks forward to working with EPA to ensure that the move to new fuels is backed by careful scientific review and completed testing.

For more information, read the full Sierra Research study below.