The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

E15 Untested, Yet Approved

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 15, 2010

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a waiver that allows for 15 percent ethanol blends in gasoline (E15), up from 10 percent. This decision is premature at best, potentially dangerous at worst, and seems based more on politics than science.

The oil and natural gas industry supports the development of alternative fuels like E15. However, this decision preempts both the conclusion of ongoing industry testing and environmental analyses mandated by the Clean Air Act. This premature waiver could threaten vehicle performance and the environment, void warranties, confuse consumers--and possibly create a public backlash against renewable fuels.

This week's E15 announcement is just another example of EPA's regulatory overreach that could end up eliminating millions of jobs and increasing costs for American businesses and consumers. The agency is in the middle of a legal battle over its authority to set levels for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. It's also proposing to tighten air quality standards to an extent that even Yellowstone National Park could not comply. And the new standards could lead to the loss of 7.3 million jobs. Even some Obama administration officials are concerned about the cost of some of EPA's proposals.

The Coordinating Research Council (CRC) is in the process of a multi-year study to evaluate E15's impact on a variety of vehicles. Initial testing has failed to offer sufficient assurance that E15 is not harmful to vehicle models 2007 and newer--those approved in Wednesday's waiver. Further testing is necessary to determine whether these vehicles will operate properly on E15, and that testing will be completed by mid-2011.

Despite these ongoing studies and concerns, bipartisan Congressional opposition, and warnings from a broad coalition of business, consumer and environmental groups, EPA chose politics over science, leaving consumers confused and vehicles in danger.

Energy policy must be set by Congress rather than unelected agency administrators. It's imperative that our elected officials weigh the costs and benefits of energy proposals and make sound, informed decisions.

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.