Senators offer bill to block EPA waivers on ethanol

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2013 - Two Republican senators recently introduced legislation aiming to block Environmental Protection Agency waivers that allow an increase in the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline.

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The bill, introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Feb. 14, would overturn EPA waivers that allowed gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be used for many passenger cars and light trucks.

The senators said the higher blend of ethanol has been found to cause engine damage, reduce fuel efficiency, and contribute to higher corn prices.

The bill would prohibit EPA from granting any waiver for a blend above 10 percent ethanol and would repeal previous waivers.

 “EPA's flawed waivers allowing E15 amount to government bureaucrats issuing short-sighted regulations that negatively impact families and businesses across the country,” Wicker said. “The concerns surrounding E15 that existed prior to the waivers have increased instead of diminishing.”

Vitter said the EPA is “irresponsible” for allowing E15 to be used without sufficient testing.

“I support an all-inclusive energy strategy, but experimenting before understanding the consequences and potential cost of using E15 is unfair to consumers,” Vitter said.

Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Association, criticized the bill.

“Clearly the motivation behind the legislation introduced by Senators Wicker and Vitter is fueled by emotion and loyalty to home state oil constituents,” Dinneen said. “Now that ethanol represents ten percent of the American fuel supply and growing, oil companies are panicked.”

Dinneen said E15 is the most tested fuel in history, and ethanol  displaces many of the toxins and carcinogens found in traditional gasoline while delivering benefits such as a 35 to 49 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

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