The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Caution Warranted as E15 Launches in Kansas

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 13, 2012

From Kansas we hear that a gas station owner in Lawrence has become the first in the country to offer E15 fuel – gasoline with 15 percent ethanol instead of the 10 percent blend that’s standard around the U.S. According to the New York Times, Scott Zaremba may expand E15 to more of his eight stations.

Before motorists in the Lawrence area rush down to fill up, they might take the time to check their vehicle warranties. Even though the EPA has approved E15 for cars and light trucks from model year 2001 forward, a Coordinating Research Council study showed that the fuel can cause engine damage. Automobile manufacturers have said vehicle warranties will not cover damage from E15. Bob Greco, API downstream group director:

“We need to press the pause button on EPA’s rush to allow higher amounts of ethanol in our gasoline. The new fuel could lead to engine damage in more than 5 million vehicles on the road today and could void the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Greco said E15 also could damage engines in boats, recreational vehicles and lawn equipment. Consumers should follow the fueling recommendations in their owner’s manuals and carefully read all gasoline pump labels before refueling, he said.

Potential problems with E15 – which is being advanced as a way to help meet volume requirements set out by the Renewable Fuels Standard – were discussed at a hearing on Capitol Hill this week. API President and CEO Jack Gerard criticized EPA’s rush to push E15 into the marketplace:

“EPA should not have proceeded with E15, especially before a thorough evaluation was conducted to assess the full range of short- and long-term impacts of increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline on the environment, on engine and vehicle performance, and on consumer safety.”

Greco said consumer protection is paramount:

“Our first priority should be protecting consumers and the investments they’ve made in their automobiles. EPA has an obligation to base this decision on science and not on a political agenda.”

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.