A new study by the Auto Alliance and the Global Automakers, groups representing most of the cars manufactured around the world, released a study last week saying EPA was premature in approving an 85-15% gas/ethanol blend, and that the new fuel blend could damage car engines.
And on Capitol Hill bills to protect the ethanol industry against potential damage through liability protection are proliferating. Consumer groups, hunger organizations, agribusiness and farm groups, retail food organizations, trial lawyers and the National Council of State Legislatures are all shooting at the EPA increased blend rate and the legislation to protect the ethanol industry.
Basically, the legislation would protect anyone in the fuel supply chain as long as that entity is in compliance with federal regulations in producing and distributing EPA-approved fuels. Other bills would allow suits only against the federal government.
Car companies have long opposed an ethanol industry petition to EPA that successfully increased the federally mandated ethanol percentage from 10% to 15%.
“Clearly, many vehicles on the road today are at risk of harm from E15. The unknowns concern us greatly, since only a fraction of vehicles have been tested to determine their tolerance to E15,” the groups said.
Consumer costs could be significant, with most repairs being cylinder head replacements. Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group which filed the original E15 petition, dismissed the study, saying EPA relied on much more extensive and thorough research in deciding to raise the blend rate. Ethanol makers say the higher blend rate is critical to maintaining and increasing ethanol demand.