the political tail has wagged the scientific dog on ethanol ever since the farm lobby realized that ethanol could be the next corn syrup. With any luck, this lawsuit could just be the point at which science re-asserts itself.
The missing link: the automakers. Though auto manufacturers have been slowly climbing on board the anti-ethanol bandwagon, in no small part because large domestic OEMs like GM were once closely allied with the ethanol industry, it seems that the coalition to stop E15 is now complete. A new group known as the Engine Products Group, comprised of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, has filed a new petition to block the EPA’s E15 ruling.
According to a press release
The petition challenges the ability of EPA to grant a partial waiver for three specific reasons.
- The Clean Air Act does not authorize EPA to issue any “partial waiver” decisions,
- EPA’s own statute passed by Congress in 2007 states that fuels can’t be approved for the market that could cause any failures. Yet, E-15 has been shown to adversely affect engines in non-road products and later model year vehicles, cause emission failures and increase air pollution due to misfueling. Further, administrative records fail to demonstrate that even new model year motor vehicles (other than “flexible fuel vehicles”) would not be damaged and result in failures when run on E-15, and
- The testing, upon which EPA made its decision, was put in the administrative record too late to permit meaningful comment or scrutiny from concerned groups and stakeholders.
Another concern? With E15 approved only for vehicles built after 2007, there are no safeguards to prevent E15 fueling in pre-2007 vehicles. A spokesman explains
While all members of the EPG have and continue to support the development and use of safe and sustainable alternative fuels, the action EPA has taken to permit E-15 to be sold as a legal fuel, even if limited only to certain products, will have adverse consequences for the environment and consumers. A partial waiver, by its nature, necessarily will result in the misfueling of products not designed or tested for E-15 use
The response, from pro-ethanol lobbying group Growth energy:
The scientific evidence demonstrates clearly that E15 is safe not only for newer vehicles – the 2007 and newer approved already by EPA this year – but also for all passenger cars and trucks on the road today. We support the EPA decision to grant the waiver for 2007 and newer vehicles, and we look forward to EPA’s action on 2001 to 2006 model year vehicles. Concerns about misfueling are premature, as EPA is drafting a robust labeling rule and will conduct a vigorous public education campaign, and we are confident that the process will be successful.”
And last but not least, there’s a little delicious irony in this brewing battle. If the EPA’s E15 waiver is struck down by the courts, the imminent renewal of the ethanol subsidy package will simply have the ethanol industry bouncing off the “blend wall” all over again. It’s 2008 all over again!