Archive for the ‘BioFuels’ Category

Last spring, EPA invited comments on a petition by Growth Energy, an ethanol producer trade association, to raise the allowable percent of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Public Citizen was critical of the proposed change. Cars on the road today may not be able to run 15 percent ethanol (E15) without causing serious damage to their cars. Many owners’ manuals specifically admonish drivers not to fuel their cars with blends of ethanol greater than 10 percent. Doing so may void the car’s warranty – leaving consumers with potentially expensive repair bills.

Raising ethanol blending to 15 percent would also have negative impacts on air quality. These blends of ethanol are associated with greater levels of ground-level ozone, which is linked to asthma and other respiratory problems.

In December, EPA decided to defer its decision on Growth Energy’s petition until it could evaluate the results of ongoing study by the Department of Energy. The agency expects to issue a final decision this June.

But it would be inappropriate for the agency to make a final decision without providing an additional opportunity for public comment. The public comment period closed on July 20, 2009, but EPA will make its final decision based on additional information that was not available at the close of the comment period. Public Citizen strongly urges that the EPA provide an additional opportunity for public comment.

The agency must not make a premature decision. The studies cited in Growth Energy’s petition do not make a convincing case that E15 can be introduced into the market without having negative impacts on vehicles on the road today.



The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Dec. 1 that it would defer deciding on a request by Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, to increase the allowable blending percent of ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Public Citizen commented in July on the petition, strongly urging that EPA deny the request for a waiver. EPA’s is expected to make a final determination in June 2010.

Distressingly, EPA’s letter expresses that blends of 15 percent ethanol are likely to be approved for vehicles made in model year 2001 or later. Public Citizen strongly opposes this. There are still a large number of vehicles on the road that were built before model year 2001. And preliminary results of the DOE testing suggest that problems with greater ethanol blending aren’t isolated to older vehicles. In a preliminary report, DOE found that 7 of 16 tested vehicles, including two model year 2007 vehicles did not adjust properly to 15 percent ethanol. Running in these conditions could cause costly damage to emissions control systems.

Vehicles that cannot adjust to higher ethanol content and run the higher blend anyway are at risk of vapor lock, a condition created when water, which dissolves in ethanol, builds up in the gas line and prevents combustion, as well as corrosion damage to engine and fuel system parts. Many manufacturers specifically advise vehicle owners from fueling with blends of ethanol greater than 10 percent. Drivers who experience this damage

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