The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

EPA and E15 Testing

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted May 20, 2013

Time to set the record straight on EPA’s premature approval of E15 fuel for the marketplace – necessitated by EPA administrator nominee Gina McCarthy’s recent inaccurate and misleading responses to Senate questions about E15 testing. McCarthy was asked:

“Was EPA aware of ongoing (Coordinating Research Council) testing on engine durability, fuel pumps and other engine components? Why not wait until that test was complete before making a decision? Because in the aftermath it looks like the decision was, at best, premature. The CRC data shows millions of approved vehicles are in danger of engine damage.”

Let’s take on the faulty claims in McCarthy’s written responses in turn:

EPA or the Energy Department was “expressly denied” a role in CRC’s E15 testing program: False

  • EPA, DOE and the U.S. national laboratories were key players before and during CRC’s E15 research, with more than 10 different staff members from these entities participating in more than eight meetings between 2008 and 2010. These meetings concerned potential gaps in CRC’s research, its test plans and procedures. The government representatives provided valuable input and had ample opportunity to offer criticism as well.
  • Staff members from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) actively participated in CRC groups doing mid-level ethanol blends research and helped write final reports. NREL even hosted one of the meetings.

CRC’s testing had scientific shortcomings: False

  • Although McCarthy’s response hit CRC for not testing components or vehicles on E0 and E10 fuels, CRC’s baseline testing is, in fact, consistent with EPA’s. Note: The agency granted its second waiver on E15 with no E10 testing, and in its first E15 waiver decision it said that E0 was the reference fuel.
  • For 70 years CRC has represented the gold standard for research on fuels, engines and vehicles. CRC tests are developed and managed by the same company automotive engineers who design and build cars. 

Complete information on CRC’s testing program was not made available to government: False

  • Again, staff from EPA, DOE and the U.S. national laboratories were involved before and during CRC’s E15 research (see above) – underscored by the fact DOE reviewed and made comments on CRC’s program.
  • See emails from CRC to DOE and EPA staff, informing them of the availability of CRC research reports as they became available, by clicking here (attachments).

Our industry has great confidence in the ability of the automotive and fuels experts who sit on CRC research and testing committees. They conduct well-conceived and thorough technical investigations of consumer acceptance and vehicle safety-related issues associated with the use of mid-level ethanol blends in vehicles operated by our mutual customers. In fact, both DOE and EPA have funded research through CRC in the past (see Page 1).

Bottom line: EPA approved E15 for the marketplace knowing full well that automotive and fuels experts were still studying its impacts. Rather than acknowledge that approval of E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles was premature, before all necessary research was done, both EPA and DOE instead attack the research and the researchers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Greco is group director of downstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute. With 21 years of experience, Bob directs activities related to refining, pipeline, marketing, and fuels issues. He has managed exploration and production activities, policy analysis, climate change issues, marine transportation, refining, gasoline and jet fuel production issues and Clean Air Act implementation efforts. Before coming to API, Bob was an environmental engineer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with expertise in automotive emission control technologies. He has a M.S. degree in environmental engineering from Cornell University and a B.A. in biology from Colgate University.