E15 Ethanol Opposition Calls For Congressional Hearings

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • BMWfan BMWfan on Aug 26, 2010

    I noticed a difference right away when I was forced to start using E10 in my first gen. Acura MDX. Mileage declined, power decreased, and according to my measurements, it runs slightly hotter, causing a slight ping. It is supposed to increase octane, but apparently not enough to offset the temp. induced ping. As MarcKyle64 stated above, my owners manual states that anything above 10% will void my warranty. This is all just political BS. I have already called my Congressman expressing my displeasure with this possible change.

  • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Aug 26, 2010

    I love diesel.

    • Engineer Engineer on Aug 27, 2010

      BINGO! What I love even more is running an old diesel on old cooking oil, doing great things for the environment and energy independence (and my pocket book) while reducing my wealth transfer to OPEC. Man, that DOES feel good!

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.