By on January 23, 2011

The EPA has followed up its ruling allowing E15 ethanol blends (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) to be pumped to vehicles built for the 2007 model-year and later, now allowing the corn juice-enhanced gasoline to be distributed to any vehicle built after 2001. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the decision to Bloomberg arguing

Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps

But, as is the case with most ethanol-related decisions, this has more to do with politics than science. After nearly ending the boondoggle known as the “Blender’s Credit,” which pays blenders for every gallon of ethanol they mix into America’s fuel supply, congress relented to lobbyist pressure and extended the $6b per year giveaway for another year. And with that financial incentive in place (along with a “renewable fuel mandate”) but little to no consumer demand to support it, blenders need to find ways to slip ever more ethanol into American gasoline. But, as a recent study proves, even E15 won’t beat the so-called “blend wall”: at best E15 gives the ethanol industry four years of taxpayer-fattened profits before it will be forced to come back and ask the government to yet again increase the amount of ethanol allowed in the gas supply.

Meanwhile, the auto industry that once saw ethanol as a prime opportunity for low-cost greenwashing has made an about-face and is suing to stop the spread of E15, arguing that its effects on engine life haven’t been adequately studied. And because ethanol offers little to no benefits relative to gasoline in terms of environmental or efficiency impacts, the fact that the EPA may be endangering automobile engines in order to keep an oversubsidized industry on (expensive) life support is beyond galling. It’s clear that, with the legislative and executive branches of government held in sway by ethanol-friendly farm states, motorists are now dependent on the court system to do the right thing and end government’s senseless love affair with ethanol.

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40 Comments on “EPA Expands E15 Ethanol To 2001 Model-Year Vehicles...”

  • avatar

    Dear EPA.
    You suck.  From the owner’s manual of our circa 2005 yeoman duty minivan aka race support vehicle:

    Gasolines containing oxygenates, such as ethers and
    ethanol, and reformulated gasolines may be available in
    your area. General Motors recommends that you use
    these gasolines if they comply with the specifications
    described earlier. However, E85 (85% ethanol) and other
    fuels containing more than 10% ethanol must not be used
    in vehicles that were not designed for those fuels.
    So there is is.  In black and white.  E15 is NOT safe to use in my vehicle, and I would suspect literally millions upon millions of vehicles built from 2001 to 2006, if not most of them.
    And the government’s war on the car continues…

    • 0 avatar

      Yes but it was the EPA that required them to put that warning to not use fuel containing more than 10% ethanol and in fact it was illegal to do so in a vehicle labeled “unleaded fuel only” as only E10 was considered “substantially similar to unleaded gasoline”. It was not there because higher E% may damage engines the restriction was imposed because it could increase emissions.
      Don’t get me wrong I’m totally against E15 and E10 as it is a waste of good ethanol that could be used in E85 a great high performance fuel that does reduce the amount of oil used.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously. I’m fairly certain my ’10 car has a warning like that, too.
      I do not want that crap in my car. Period.

    • 0 avatar

      @scoutdude: e85 does very little to reduce oil use. The problem is that industrial agriculture uses an incredible amount of petroleum product in the form of pesticides and fertilizer. The pesticides pollute the ecosystem, and the fertilizer pollutes the waterways, and is a major contributor to the huge dead zone in the gulf of mexico.

    • 0 avatar

      “Dear EPA. You suck.”

      I was planning to use much stronger verbiage, but that pretty much sums it up.

      Should we all send the bill from repairing our older iron direct to the White House?

  • avatar

    Not good for my lawn mower engine, my pickup’s former fuel pump (God rest its soul), or my cars. But damn if it isn’t great for Archer Daniels Midland Company!

    • 0 avatar

      No the big winner is not Archer Daniels, they are no longer the big player in the ethanol industry. The big winners are the oil companies since they are the ones that keep the blender credit and since for most vehicles it lowers MPG their volume goes up so it is a double boost to their profits. Since it lowers MPG for most vehicles it doesn’t even reduce the amount of oil used.

  • avatar

    If we could only get Texas to move its Presidential Primary to a date before the Iowa Caucus, this problem would go away and CORNPEC would collapse.

    • 0 avatar

      I love this thought, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending which party you’re for), Texas is so solidly red nowadays that there’s no point in presidential candidates spending a lot of time and money trying to woo us. Their effort is best spent on states that are more purple on the map than a surefire red or blue. Texas is going to go red just like California’s a surefire blue. That’s why we don’t get much attention on the campaign trail. :o(
      Now if there was a swing state with a large oil industry instead of corn…please, please move it in front of Iowa’s.

  • avatar

    “…the president said in remarks before an audience of lawmakers, scientists in the East Room, is to ensure that “we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology”: a line that drew more applause than any other….”
    Ideology winds again.  The manufacturers of the engines (GM, Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc) aren’t too happy about this “ruling” – they’re suing.
    Of course get ready for even lower mileage since ethanol contains less energy than gasoline.  Not to mention all the corrosion issues.  Of course the President doesn’t care – the limousine is diesel? Besides, who drives when you have the world’s biggest executive jet (using kerosene) at your command?

  • avatar

    EPA says Corexit is nontoxic.

  • avatar

    As far as I can see the only good argument in favor of ethanol production is that it might help lower dependence on foreign oil, but that’s a pretty weak argument in the current globalized marketplace. Surely there are better ways of treating good fertile land than this (and better ways of becoming less dependent on foreign oil as well, e.g., become less dependent on oil?).

    • 0 avatar

      By better ways of treating good fertile land you mean paying farmers not to plant anything like was done in the past?

    • 0 avatar

      Not particularly. I was actually thinking of alternative crops for food. Still, I will admit that sometimes not using something can be as good or better than using something, particularly when the use in question is highly questionable and may actually contribute to other kinds of direct and indirect harms both in the short and long term (and some of those harms have been noted here already by others).

    • 0 avatar

      p.s., The last time I checked, the largest supplier of oil and natural gas to the U.S.A was Canada, and while this is still ‘foreign’ oil, somehow or other I don’t think you have any worries about losing access to that supply.

  • avatar

    So if I drive an older vehicle where the hell do I make my choice not to use  E15?  Oh wait, I don’t get a choice and my older car will suffer. Good thing the government is in the auto business now, I’ll just buy a GM and help pay off my own unchosen loan.
    It’s really sad that it’s come to this. A federal order to use something thinly disguised as good for the environment while somehow depriving terror regimes of cash. I guess it never occurred to these geniuses that some other country would still buy oil if we didn’t.
    Maybe they need more propaganda on Brazil’s ethanol utopia.

    Every time the station owner says “its expensive” remember who really pays for the new tanks, plumbing, dispensers, etc. If you think it’s him look at who really pays in the mirror.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s no utopia my friend and it does distort the market. But if (hypothetically) gas ran out tomorrow, 70 percent of the cars on Brazilian roads would keep on going (though the country would come to a standstill as we depend on diesel driven trucks for most cargo transportation needs). Some people have grown fat and lazy on the sacrifice of many others, but, IN THEORY, I don’t need to worry about peak oil, or the end of oil. Call it what you like, but it’s pretty amazing a lowly 3rd World country took this decision and ran with it. Now that we are self sufficient in gas, you should probably thank us, as we, Brazil unlike China or India, will put no undue pressure on future oil prices.

      End of rant!

    • 0 avatar

      @Marcelo de Vasconcellos, Can you comment on Amazon jungle deforestation as a means to clear land for sugarcane growth for ethanol production?  Is this a big reason for deforestation?

      Also, your point of heavy transport vehicles in Brazil using diesel is interesting.  It is something I had not heard before, but it does make sense.

    • 0 avatar

      @GS650G is how you decide where you can get E0 gasoline. Look up your nearest gas stations. One close to work, one close to home (if not the same), and if you commute any distance check for ones that are along your normal route(s).

      My nearest used to be 2 miles, now it’s 11 miles. I don’t go that way often but if I have any excuse to do so I fill up.

    • 0 avatar


      As to deforestation, you don’t have to worry (for now). Because the Amazon soil and even the rain patterns are unfit to grow sugarcane. Sugarcane is gaining some ground in the “Cerrado”, which kind of like a Savannah. It’s drier and you to carefully take care of the soil (andirrigate), but it can be done. Brazilian agricultural engineers and bioligists have been very good at adapting plants to foreign environments, so there’s a risk they’ll create a sugarcane capable of growing in the Amazon, but for now no “luck”.

      You know, science has a way of breaking down these limits. Even 50 years ago people believed nothing but cattle could be grown/raised productively in the cerrado biota. Now, it’s Brazil’s breadbasket. Imean even cotton is grown there and, if I’m not mistaken, harvested twice a year.

      Most cargo transportation is handled by diesel-driven trucks in Brazil. We have few trains and even less river transportation. So the argument that Brazil is self sufficient in gasoline is a false one. You see, we can’t refine enough diesel (that’s why the last guv was so keen on bio diesel, let’s see if this one follows the old one’s policy on this). So we have to export crude in order to reimport diesel, so in the end we don’t really have enough gasoline or diesel. Though at least in terms of gasoline this will change shortly with the new discoveries of rich deposits in the sea and Amazon.

      Newrefineries are also coming on line. The oil taken from the sea in Brazil is usually very heavy too, which leads to a series of complicatiosn in producing diesel. So, my claim that’d we get away scott free if oil finished tomorrow is hyperbole. But the situation looks like it’ll change in the next 5 to 10 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Marcelo for a thoughtful reply.

  • avatar

    Ethanol is for drinking, NOT driving.
    Buy stock in fuel pump makers, carb rebuilders, and rubber hoses.
    I recently had a tank or two of REAL gas in Florida.  Car ran much better.
    Take this crap out of my gas.

  • avatar

    The EPA is fullacrap.
    This is from the Hyundai website as of today:
    Do not use gasohol containing more than 10% ethanol or any gasoline or gasohol containing methanol. These fuels may cause drivability problems and damage to the fuel system in your Hyundai. If a drivability problem occurs, gasohol could be the cause. Changing to another brand may alleviate the problem.

    Please consult your Owner’s Manual with further questions.
    This is from my 2010 Accent owner’s manual –
    Gasohol (a mixture of 90% unleaded gasoline and 10% ethanol or grain alcohol) may be used in your Hyundai. However, if your engine develops driveability problems, the use of 100% unleaded gasoline is recommended. Fuels with unspecified quantities of alcohol, or
    alcohols other than ethanol, should not be used.
    Hyundai is recommending pure gasoline. I’m taking this as a warning NOT to use E15 as it will invalidate my warranty or (more likely) cause damage that will appear years down the road.  Now, if Hyundai send me a written letter stating that E15 is okay, then I’ll start using it.  I guess I’m going to have to start shopping for ethanol content (and not knowing for sure if those posted amounts are accurate) rather than price – which sucks because I’m gonna get screwed.  Plus, what do I do on a trip where I don’t know which stations sell E10?  I wish Hyundai sold a Flex-Fuel capable car.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes but it was the EPA that made them put the warning to not use fuels with greater than 10% ethanol in the first place and include the scary language about engine damage because if the truth was there that it may cause an increase in emissions then no one would listen too it. But if you say it will damage the engine or void your warranty people are much more likely to listen. E15 is no more likely to damage anything than E10. Of course there are cars out there than E10 will damage namely Toyotas with the low quality metal they use for fuel rails.

  • avatar

    I guess one way to look at it is that this is just another stimulus package for new cars that have flex fuel capability.  There goes the resale value of my ’06 Toyota and ’08 Hyundai.  Assholes.

  • avatar

    @Marcelo de Vasconcellos
    When oil completely runs out overseas we’ll start pumping out own.  Or we’ll use some the 8 Billion barrels Brazil found off their coast recently. Brazil has deeper problems than fuel which demand attention anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      8 billion is just the start. If the optimistic forecasts come true, we will become the next Saudi Arabia. Part of me wants that, yet another part hopes it doesn’t pan out. I mean, the black gold has turned into a mixed blessing st best.

      BTW, don’t forget the reserves in the Amazon. We’ve barely touched on that. I have a friend wprking at a prospection there. If we are to believe him, peak oil will have been delayed by at least 100 years.

      All the eco greenies can have a heart attack now.

    • 0 avatar

      E85 is cheaper per gallon. But you travel fewer miles per gallon. Would you rather get 30 mpg with real gas that costs $3 per gallon, or 20 mpg with E85 that costs $2.50?

    • 0 avatar

      Truckducken, It all depends on the vehicle my Taurus FFV only looses about 13% when running E85 compared to E10 the only commonly available fuel in my area. So yeah if E10 is $3.00 and E85 is $2.50 then I can come out ahead using E85. The bonus though is that it makes more power, low to mid range torque is noticeably improved. First time I brought it home after I took it on a trip to where I could buy E85, it wasn’t available in my area at the time and still isn’t at a beneficial price, my wife asked what did you do to my car? I played dumb, thinking she found a dent or some other damage, and said “nothing”. Her: So you didn’t tune it up or do some modification? Me: No. Her: Well it sure runs better and has more power. Me: yup it’s drunk.

  • avatar

    Umm… I think the cats been out of the bag for some time.  As in the ethanol content has likely been higher than 10% for some time in some areas.
    First law of street drugs… cut the good stuff with filler, make more profit.
    Perhaps its been covered here before but a guy in Texas started to check stations for ethanol percentage after he suspected cars in his shop were suffering from more problems than just E10 could cause.  Many stations were way over, one as high as E50.  Its been awhile.  I’ll search for the link….
    Directions for how to check are on the interwebz of course.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not that common but yes there have been cases reported where unscrupulous station owners have cut their E10 or straight gas with E85 to improve their profits. But it isn’t very likely that it left the terminal at more than 10%.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, I thought E85 was supposed to be more expensive than gasoline…

    • 0 avatar

      Alex, it all depends on where you are at, in the mid west it is not uncommon to find E85 that is priced at about 75% of the price of gasoline. Now if you are asking whether or not it is more expensive to use E85 than gas it depends on the vehicle, a good FFV looses about 15% in MPG, only slightly more than E15, so again it does depend on what the price difference is.

  • avatar

    Here ya go,

    I realize it might be anecdotal, but no one knows how common or uncommon since I imagine hardly anyone is testing the gasoline they buy.
    One thing that jumps out at me on my own vehicle.  The fumes have a sickly sweet odor with E10? that is vaguely familiar to my track memories.  Guys cut their fuel with methanol to get an edge in performance.  Sure was noticeable to the olfactory unit.

  • avatar

    The day I see only E15 blends available at the filling station I usually use is the day I will start to go out of my way to one of the two places in town that carry gasoline with no ethanol.  Until their manufacturer publishes revised literature, I absolutely refuse to jeopardize the longevity and performance of my vehicles whose manuals clearly state that only blends up to and including E10 are permissible.  ADM, Monsanto, farm “executives” who haven’t set foot on a field in years, and others who hide (lobby) behind the façade of “the American farmer” can go pound sand until the day corn is used for food rather than for fuel.

  • avatar

    Do it without subsides and without using any foreign oil and it would start to make some sense.

  • avatar

    I’ll agree with all the comments about damaging the cars.
    But my bigger question, is when did the EPA turn from a protection agency to an activist one?  Going against science to support lobbyists.  There are rumblings about them forcing their own cap-and-trade scheme to avoid Congress.  Aren’t there also discussions about them setting their own fuel economy standards based on the link to emissions?  And that tie-up with Chrysler on a hybrid system is also pretty odd if you ask me.
    These guys, similar to LaHood, need to quit thinking they have all the solutions and then ramming them down our throats.

  • avatar

    Why such a dislike when it comes to ethanol? It’s not as bad as you’ve been lead to believe. I started running it a little over 2 years ago when I had a flex fuel Taurus and a fueling station opened up near me. I’m now running it in my 98 Honda Civic and only had to install larger (used stock D16y8) fuel injectors, it even ran fine on the stock ones but went way lean and lost power under open loop. It’s been about 12k miles and everything’s been fine, I’ve changed nothing else, not even the fuel filter. The only downsides I have found is the price (higher than gas after mpg decrease, went from 380 miles per tank to 300), and a longer start time in the cold (offset by an extra gallon or two of gasoline, but even when it’s 0 degrees outside it still starts on pure E85). Spark plugs stay very nice looking, and the oil stays amazingly clean also (looks brown when changed, not black).

    I ran my motorcycle (CB 750 nighthawk) on it this past summer for a few months, but changed back to gas since I didn’t know what size jets to buy for my carbs, I had drilled out the old ones to make it work and it wasn’t perfect. I’ve also been running my chainsaw on it for 2 years (mixture adjustment), plus a 2 stroke minibike that is also on it’s 2nd year (threw in larger spare jets). I always mix it in about a 50% mix into my lawnmower and wood chipper too. Never once have I had any problems with the fuel system or carbs on any of my engines, NO corrosion, NO deteriorated rubber. It cleans away gasoline varnish and buildup over time, and also makes the exhaust smell nice. Gas also dries up fuel lines, and has gummed up countless carbs. It’s also easier on the hands than gas, smells much more pleasant, and I accidentally splashed a TON in my eye once, damn was I glad it wasn’t gas!

    Remember that the oil companies also enjoy many billions per year in various subsidies and tax breaks from all over the U.S.

    Sorry for the long rant / story. I just can’t sit by silently when everyone’s saying it’s going to destroy engines and cause all sorts of damage, that just hasn’t been the case for me at all. Don’t confuse the corrosive properties of METHANOL with ETHANOL.

  • avatar

    Ouch, my turbo-charged WRX is already choking on lousy 91-Octane California gas. I foresee no price reduction even with E15, E55, E85…

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Let’s face real facts; real 100% gasoline is nearly impossible to find now. 

    So BECAUSE I saw this coming when it was announced for 2007 and newer cars (though it is not in stations YET), I wrote to both manufacturers of my cars and got back information stating that using E15 WAS GOING TO INVALIDATE MY WARRANTY on both my cars (one 2009, the other 2010).  The manufacturers were Subaru and Hyundai.  Please check with your own manufacturers. 

    So I wrote them back and indicated that not only would I do my best to ensure that only E8 to E10 was used in the cars, but I would actually keep proof. 

    How on earth could I do that?  By ONLY using “Top Tier” gasoline, that’s how.  Here is the link to which oil companies are approved as “Top Tier” gasoline providers (and every gallon of their fuel MUST meet standards).

    Here is the relevant section of importance to us all: Base Fuel.   The base fuel shall conform to ASTM D 4814 and shall contain commercial fuel grade ethanol conforming to ASTM D 4806. All gasoline blend stocks used to formulate the base fuel shall be representative of normal U.S. refinery operations and shall be derived from conversion units downstream of distillation. Butanes and pentanes are allowed for vapor pressure adjustment. The use of chemical streams is prohibited. The base fuel shall have the following specific properties after the addition of ethanol:

    Contain enough denatured ethanol such that the actual ethanol content is no less than 8.0 and no more than 10.0 volume percent.

    You might also want to know that the Historical Vehicle Association has come out against E15, probably because once this fuel is introduced for “newer” cars, before long the government would start mandating it for all motor fuels, thereby totally ruining literally millions of old cars (as well as boat motors, small engines, etc.)

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