Opposition to the Ethanol industry’s push to allow gasoline blends with up to 15 percent ethanol is coming together this week, as a massive coalition of interest groups calls for congressional hearings on the EPA’s pending E15 decision [via PRNewswire]. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers joined 37 other groups, ranging from the National Resources Defense Council to the Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association, in calling on congressional energy committees to take up the issue.
The letter explains
EPA has indicated that it should make a decision on granting a waiver for E15 by the end of September, and we believe that many important questions remain before EPA can make this decision. For example, EPA has not released information about the mid-level blend’s impact on different types of road and non-road engines, nor has it released information about how it will prevent harm to consumers from “misfueling” their engines with the incorrect blend.
We believe there are many questions remaining before EPA makes its final decision on the mid- level ethanol fuel waiver, and that the Environment and Public Works Committee is the ideal place to ask those questions. We also believe that the Department of Energy should fully expand and accelerate mid-level ethanol blends research in the areas that are necessary to protect consumers. For these reasons, we urge you to hold a hearing with EPA, DOE and other witnesses on the mid-level ethanol testing and waiver.
The coalition of E15 opponents is a big tent and as the letter makes clear, environmentalism isn’t necessarily the glue that holds it together. A number of food-industry groups like the American Meat Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the National Turkey Federation are concerned about ethanol’s impacts on food prices. The Association of Marina Industries, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, SEMA, the automakers and other motor-industry interest groups are primarily concerned about E15′s impact on their products. The call for more testing of E15 and E12 (which the corn and ethanol industries have requested approval for as an interim measure) is primarily motivated by the motor manufacturing and service faction, as ethanol has been tied to corrosion in engines, reduced fuel economy, and higher-than-normal operating temperatures.
Still, this broad coalition seems determined to provide a counter-weight to the ethanol lobby. Its website Followthescience.org goes beyond just calling for more E15 testing, laying out a comprehensive case for opposition to corn ethanol. If opposition to corn ethanol’s long stint at the federal trough is in this fight for the long haul, we may yet see a real rollback in the wasteful subsidies for ethanol. If nothing else, limiting blending to E10 will keep the ethanol industry’s back against the “blend wall.” That’s a fine place to start.