There is some ethanol in almost all of the gasoline sold in the U.S. Usually, this amount is no more than 10 percent of the total and, if it's more than that, it jumps all the way to 85 percent and is sold as E85. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was supposed to come down on one side or the other today of a possible increase across the board to 15 percent that Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers asked for, but instead announced that it needs more time.

The EPA has been looking at the E15 issue all year and investigating all sorts of issues, but there are a lot of moving parts in this sort of decision. Everyone from farmers and their subsidies to grow the corn used to make most of the ethanol sold today to car makers who have tuned their engines to run on E10 but not E15 want to have their say. The EPA has heard the comments, and now says that it needs more time to test E15 in vehicles. Right now, it thinks that any vehicle built after 2001 will burn E15 just fine, but there are a lot of older vehicles still on the road. Cash For Clunkers didn't get all of them off the road, after all. A decision is now expected in mid-June 2010.

The postponement was met with approval by the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures, which said they want more government testing "to prove that increasing the allowable ethanol blend limit will not harm vehicle emissions, performance, and durability." Read their full statement after the jump.

[Source: Reuters, Auto Allliance | Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

PRESS RELEASE

Automaker Statement on EPA E-15 Waiver Decision:

Washington, DC – The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers today praised the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) postponement of a decision on an ethanol producer waiver application seeking to increase the amount of ethanol permitted to be blended in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Automakers want government testing to prove that increasing the allowable ethanol blend limit will not harm vehicle emissions, performance, and durability.

Alliance President and CEO Dave McCurdy stated, "We are pleased that EPA recognizes the importance of making decisions based on sound science. Any decisions on blends higher than E-10 for the existing fleet should be postponed until adequate testing results are available."

McCurdy added, "Currently there are more than 7 million vehicles on the road capable of operating on fuels blended with up to 85 percent ethanol. And while we share concerns regarding energy security, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be certain that prolonged use of mid level blends will not damage existing engines, fuel lines and emissions systems. Widespread failures resulting from higher blends of ethanol would be costly to automakers, a setback for the biofuels industry and most of all a disaster for the driving public."
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The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. For more information, visit the Alliance website at www.autoalliance.org
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