By on June 10, 2011

Reuters reports that White House has approved a label for E15 ethanol blends, which warn motorists not to use the higher blend if their vehicle was built before the 2007 model-year. What Reuters won’t show you is the final label design that was approved… was it the EPA’s proposed design (above), or one of the ethanol lobby’s proposed alternatives (see gallery below). Clearly there’s a bit of a difference between the two, and the EPA was under quite a bit of pressure to not go with the orange-and-red “CAUTION!” version. In documentation from hearings on the E15 labeling issue [PDF], you can read executives and lobbyists expounding at length about the fact that ethanol is good for America, and that labeling shouldn’t discourage the use of E15. Which it doesn’t…. in 2007 and later vehicles. And if you check the EPA’s docket on the issue, you’ll find plenty of good reasons for preventing “misfueling”.  Luckily few gas station owners are likely to invest in E15 pumps anyway, so you may never actually see this label in the wild.

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28 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: E15 Ethanol Is Coming Edition...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    What does this mean for those of us whose owner’s manuals explicitly state not to use blends higher than E10, even if the car was made post 2007?

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Here is to hoping that I never see E15 anywhere.

  • avatar
    rem83

    Wow – if they start selling this stuff, I sure hope retail gasoline providers will be required to offer E10 or lower concentrations or ethanol blended gas as well. I’ll bet you still have plenty of people with older vehicles filling up with the E15 because it’s “cheaper”

  • avatar

    More on the ethanol front: the price of Corn Juice is actually at a 3 year high ($2.75/gal)… but because it’s due to high corn futures prices not high demand, the refiners are still losing money, reports Reuters.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    K-Street is the fourth and most powerful branch of the US government. Unless that changes (and it won’t because they make the policy), we are heading down a rough road indeed.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    As long as the USA refuses to allow import of cheaper Brasilian ethanol (made in a much more reasonable way from cane sugar), inefficiently-produced corn-based ethenol will both continue to be unnessarily expensive and drive up all (not just corn) grain prices worldwide. USA agribusiness loves the stuff of course.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    The EPA-proposed label is the least comprehensible of the 3 shown here (what’s up with the center-justify and no bullet-points? This is an imbecil-designed label);

    The black and the blue labels seem to display their information much clearly…

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The good thing is that it’s orange, so it actually *looks* like a warning label.

      The only thing which would be better is if it were bright red!

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        Yellow Black and Red is good. Like http://www.after5catalog.com/images/products/772-07510b1.jpg

        Just replace the radiation symbols with E15 on one side and the word Ethanol on the other.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    This subsidy to the corn lobby needs to die now.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    What makes no sense at all is the point that it is only for use in 2007 later FFVs. The early FFVs that had an actual physical fuel composition sensor are much happier dealing with blends than the later models that use a virtual fuel composition sensor algorithm. I doubt we will be seeing many E15 pumps any time soon, I just don’t see the retailers dedicating the tank and pumps to a fuel they can only legally sell to 07 and up vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      >>”I doubt we will be seeing many E15 pumps any time soon, I just don’t see the retailers dedicating the tank and pumps to a fuel they can only legally sell to 07 and up vehicles.”

      Your logic makes sense. Which is why the combination of the environmental whacko contingent (quite strong in this administration) and the pre-2012 Iowa caucus emboldened agricultural will probably get EPA to mandate at least some percentage of pumps provide it.

      In which case gas station owners will just use it across the board rather than add pumps (which costs and local zoning will make difficult, if not impossible). The label will be there, but no alternative lower-ethanol fuel.

      And for folks with older vehicles, well the Obama administration via Comrade Cass Sunstein wants to “nudge” you into smaller, higher mileage vehicles — so premature failure of you engine helps accelerate the cause.

  • avatar

    The dumbest part of E15 is that it only helps ethanol lobby a very little bit, nowhere near enough. It really should be E85 or nothing, but they cannot seem to close the deal. Result is the worst possible compromise that hurts everyone, even ethanolers (well, ADM and their lobbists come out good, and some congresscritters get their pockets stuffed, but that’s about it).

  • avatar
    fiasco

    If this happens, I’m going to have to start buying 5 gallon jugs of non-ETOH racing fuel at $12 a gallon to at least cut back the amount of ethanol to acceptable levels in the toy car AND my daily driver…$100 fill ups, ugh. And since I was taught if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all, this is what I think of the government:

    And that goes for both parties.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      There are a couple of stations in my area that offer premium without ethanol for about $0.15 or so more than regular unleaded, bt they have signs on it that it’s not for use in modern engines and only recommends using it in classic cars or small engines. I’ve thought about going for a month or two with the gas (long enough to burn through the fuel I have with ethanol) to see if I could get a little better mileage, to offset the cost of the non-ethanol fuel.

      I haven’t figured out if it’s worth it yet though since right now I have a relatively minor discount from a local station $0.06 on regular unleaded, and $0.08 on unleaded plus. Unleaded Plus, at the station I use is the same price as regular unleaded so that’s what I buy, unfortunately it has ethanol.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        The only fuel supplier where I live in California that provides fuel without ethanol added supplies high octane fuel for the local hot rodders and race car owners/drivers (I suppose) at quite a premium over premium (it was $5 per gallon several years ago). However, I came across a gas station while visiting my mom near Boise, Idaho that offered all grades of gasoline without ethanol and there are several stations like this as you head north from Idaho Falls upto Yellowstone. As a completely unscientific experiment, I fileld up with the non-ethanol gas at a cost of about 4% more per gallon last year. My mileage from this tank of gas during mixed driving around the Boise area was 10% better than the mileage I got from the oxygenated gas purchased in Oregon which included approximately 60 miles of freeway driving to my mom’s and mixed driving after. I would like to do long term experiments if it was easily available at home.

  • avatar

    I like how all the labels mention use of E15 in vehicles manufactured prior to 2007 is merely prohibited. How many vehicle operators fill up with premium “because it’s better?”

    The fact all these labels conveniently neglect to mention the reason WHY ethanol shouldn’t be used in older vehicles is almost criminal. I’d suggest it’s part of some sinister plot to increase demand for newer vehicles (“Sorry, sir. Your 97 Accord will need a new engine. It just wore out. Let me talk with the sales manager…”), but that would imply a focus on something other than short-term, personal financial gain. ;)

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    The State of Washington is one where all gas stations are E10 across the board for every grade. A few years back when this was considered, a couple of groups put on a valiant effort to get at least one grade exempted but by and large the mass of people slept through the problem so the groups gave up.

    We now have everyone with small gas engine equipment paying for expensive engine work as a direct result of the alcohol in the fuel yet nobody has went to the legislature to get at least one grade exempted.

    The norm here is $125 for each lawn mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer, chain saw, and boat motor to get them running again. Cars sitting all winter are also near impossible to start.

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      Exactly what I’ve been going through the last 5 years here in California, both with the classic cars I have and with my lawn mower, weed wacker, and blower. On the plus side, I can tear apart and put back together a small engine and carb real fast now.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It’s not the WA state law that makes almost all of the gas sold in WA to be E10. The WA law requires an average of 2% ethanol. How that is done doesn’t matter so they can do it any way they want. What drove us to E10 was the state of OR’s law that required all gas to be E10 is what rammed it down our throats. Since the 2 states fuel distrubtion system share a common pipeline the refiners have made sub octane 85 the standard product in the pipeline. When 10% Ethanol is added you get the 87 octane. Since selling E10 is more profitable the oil companies used the excuse of the 2% to spread it through most of WA. The ethanol usually cost less than gas, they get a 4.5 cents/gallon tax credit on average it means you get lower MPG so they sell more overall volume. They also used the Mandate an excuse to up their profit margin even more on the other end. There are a few retail outlets in the state, many unfortunately are on the dry side. Here is one list, can’t vouch for it’s accuracy or how up to date it is. http://pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=WA There is a simple test to verify if they are indeed selling ethanol free gas.

  • avatar
    fiasco

    And I would like to thank the E10 for eating a hole in my lawn mower’s carburetor priming bulb today… let’s add more of this subsidized solvent to our fuel! BRILLIANT!

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    If they are going to require separate pumps for E15, why bother with selling E10 and E15? Instead, go all the way and sell E85 and E0–that would make everyone happy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I agree if the EPA was really concerned with the promotion of ethanol as an alternative fuel they really need to stop subsidzing the oil industry with the current blenders credit system. The oil companies are the major benefactor of it. E10 increases their sales since most vehicles loose MPG In experience in my late model FI vehicles it is pretty much 10%. So it does not reduce the amount of gas many vehicles use. It does increase the volume that the oil companies sell though. Most of the time the ethanol costs the oil companies less than it does to make gas, they get the blenders credit, and in most cases do not pass the savings on to the consumer. My wife’s DD is a Taurus FFV and while it wasn’t purchased because it was a FFV but I figured I’d experiment with it if and when I found it. I’d read all the pro and con “propaganda” and decided to experiment. When I bought it the nearest pump was 85 miles away. The next time I was going to take a trip in that direction I took it. I purchased it on the way there and back so it was pretty much fully E85 when I got home. After the wife had driven it the first time she asked me “what did you do to my car/”. It didn’t sound like she was happy so I was thinking did it get damaged some how and carefully said “nothing what’s wrong with it?” You didn’t tune it up or do something to it? “No why?” Well it seems like it has a lot more power. When the MPG was figured vs the E10 it usually drinks the loss was ~13%. The E85 was about 18% less so I came out ahead a few $ for the trip. But comparing the amount of gas used using E85 I only used about 18% that I would have using E10. Later we took it on a trip in and out of areas where we were able to obtain E85. So I ended up inadvertently testing what was somewhere between E40 and E50. With that blend power was improved and the MPG was about 13% better than E10.

  • avatar
    Busted Knuckle

    I continue to be disgusted by the special interest political machine in this country. The term “civil servant” has long ago lost any relevancy. I’m all for farmers making a living, but we’ve subsidized corn to the point that we need to keep finding new uses for it because we now can produce so much of the stuff – One thing the U.S. is tremendously good at is growing crops. Take a close look in your cupboard and you’ll find corn in nearly everything on the shelf. If the government truly wants to help the U.S. become more energy self-sufficient, they should be looking to cut our fuel with an algae-based fuel source. The energy ratios are about 3.5 to 1, much closer to gasoline.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Bah! Switch to diesel and say goodbye to all this BS!

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    I recently went on a road trip to Seattle from Alberta, where i live. No ethanol in the gas in Alberta unless you want it and go to a husky station. I filled up a couple of times in Seattle with Shell V-Power ethanol blend (no choice) and my car did not run as well…I have an Audi engine that requires 91 octane. It did not die or anything dramatic and the difference was barely noticeable, but it was there all the same. She returned to normal once I crossed the border back into Canada and gave it some nice non-ethanol V-Power. My wife noted that the coke in the states tastes funny and its ethanol too, in Canada good old sugar is used in coke. In the states its corn syrup.


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