By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Oct. 13 – The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) charges that EPA's limited OK for E15 ethanol Wednesday “is missing an opportunity to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and create new economic opportunity.” However Growth Energy, a second trade group promoting ethanol use and the initiator of the E15 waiver petition, called Wednesday's controversial E15 decision “an important first step.” Growth Energy added that “much more must be done to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the United States and improve our environment.”

Growth Energy noted that “Today’s decision will apply to more than 42 million vehicles – nearly 20 percent of the current fleet of passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S., all 2007 and newer. In November, after engine testing on those models is completed, EPA is expected to decide whether to approve E15 for vehicles 2001 to 2006. Approval of those 86 million cars and trucks would mean that E15 would be allowed in more than half of the total passenger cars and light-duty trucks on the road today.”

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis commented that “Today’s approval of E15 for newer vehicles is the first crack in the blend wall in more than 30 years, and proves what was laid out in Growth Energy’s Green Jobs Waiver – that E15 is a good fuel for American motorists. And while this is an important first step, there are many more steps we can take toward strengthening our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs here in the United States and improving our environment.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) voices a much more critical view. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen charges that “EPA’s scientifically unjustified bifurcation of the U.S. car market will do little to move the needle and expand ethanol use today. Limiting E15 use to 2007 and newer vehicles only creates confusion for retailers and consumers alike. America’s ethanol producers are hitting an artificial blend wall today. The goals of Congress to reduce our addiction to oil captured in the Renewable Fuels Standard cannot be met with this decision.”

Dinneen highlighted the importance of an expanded market to next generation technologies, saying EPA's partial waiver covering only 2007 and newer vehicles “continues to leave the market artificially constrained and further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization. While we appreciate the work put into this waiver request, especially the two-plus years of testing by the Department of Energy, it is clear EPA is missing an opportunity to meaningfully increase America’s use of renewable fuels and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”

Dinneen also pointed out the apparent legal and scientific disconnect inherent in EPA’s outright denial for MY2000 and older vehicles. “EPA is providing no scientific justification for its decision to bifurcate the market. It’s almost as though they pulled the number out of a hat. As test after test has demonstrated, E15 is safe and effective in all light duty vehicles.”

Dinneen noted that on January 1, 2011, vehicles MY2000 and older will all be out of warranty coverage and beyond their useful lives, thus putting them beyond the regulation of EPA. “EPA’s overreach to deny E15 for use in vehicles over which they no longer have jurisdiction is beyond puzzling.”

RFA insists that EPA is ignoring well-documented evidence that E15 is safe for all light duty vehicles. RFA recently released a report from Ricardo, Inc. that used EPA’s own engineering assessment methodology to determine the efficacy of E15 in vehicles MY2000 and older. The report concluded, “…that the adoption and use of E15 in the motor vehicle fleet from the studied model years should not adversely affect the vehicles or cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner when compared with their performance when using the E10 blend that is currently available.”

RFA considers widespread adoption of E15 based upon EPA’s bifurcated approach unlikely, based on comments from gasoline marketers and retailers. In its weekly newsletter from September 17, 2010, the Petroleum Marketers’ Association of America stated, “Limiting the waiver to a specific class of vehicles based on date of manufacture means retailers would be forced by market conditions to carry both E-10 and E-15 product, thus increasing the risk of consumer misfueling. The good news is that the waiver will likely not require E-15 but only allow its use. Refiners are not expected to supply E-15 as a result of the waiver approval alone.”

Dinneen criticized EPA’s implicit denial of other blends such as E12 which RFA says could be used in all vehicles and pumps immediately. “I find it hard to believe that there is not a level between E10 and E15 at which EPA could approve for use in all vehicles. An interim step to anything above E10 for all vehicles would have a more immediate impact on the market than today’s announcement,” Dinneen said.

For Stewart Doan's audio on EPA's E15 split decision, go to:

For reactions from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Farm Bureau and Sen. Kent Conrad, go to:

For reactions from USDA Sec. Vilsack, Sen. Tom Harkin, Sen. Mike Johanns, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and the National Pork Producers Council, go to: and to

To read about EPA's announcement which removes limits on selling E15 ethanol for model 2007 vehicles and newer, go to:

For pre-announcement reaction from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), go to:

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