• Oct 13, 2010
A little number on your friendly local gas station pump might be about to change. Instead of 10 percent (E10), America's national gasoline supply can now contain a blend of fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) following an announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency today. The caveat, for now, is that this fuel is only to be used in cars built since 2007.

So, that means that there could easily be five liquid fuels at a single gas station: ethanol-free gasoline, E10, E15, E85 and diesel – and this isn't counting different octane blends of "standard" gas. It also means that some gas station owners are saying they're not too interested in adding E15 pumps right now. USA Today says it is likely the EPA will approve E15 for older vehicles after more tests are conducted this month. The USDA – which cares because so much domestically grown corn is used to make the ethanol – and the ethanol industry support the EPA's decision. The CEO of ethanol company Poet, Jeff Broin, said in a statement that:
The arguments being made right now against E15 are the same as those made about E10 back in the late 1980s, when I entered the ethanol industry. Seventy billion gallons later, we have proven those arguments false, just as research on E15 is proving critics wrong today.
For the past 18 months or so, the E10/E15 story has been hard-fought on both sides, with supporters for the increased biofuel content saying that the fuel will be fine in most any vehicles on the road today and opponents saying there needs to be more testing because of warranty concerns. The Renewable Fuels Association took a particularly strong stand. Feel free to read more from some of the parties involved after the break.

[Source: USA Today, USDA | | Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images]
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EPA Grants E15 Waiver for Newer Vehicles

A new label for E15 is being proposed to help ensure consumers use the correct fuel


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling fuel that is more than 10 percent ethanol for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15 – and only to model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. This represents the first of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry towards commercialization of E15 gasoline blends. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy's (DOE's) extensive testing and other available data on E15's impact on engine durability and emissions.

"Thorough testing has now shown that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America's vehicles, this administration takes those steps."

A decision on the use of E15 in model year 2001 to 2006 vehicles will be made after EPA receives the results of additional DOE testing, which is expected to be completed in November. However, no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in model year 2000 and older cars and light trucks – or in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines – because currently there is not testing data to support such a waiver. Since 1979, up to 10 percent ethanol or E10 has been used for all conventional cars and light trucks, and non-road vehicles.

Additionally, several steps are being taken to help consumers easily identify the correct fuel for their vehicles and equipment. First, EPA is proposing E15 pump labeling requirements, including a requirement that the fuel industry specify the ethanol content of gasoline sold to retailers. There would also be a quarterly survey of retail stations to help ensure their gas pumps are properly labeled.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall volume of renewable fuels into the marketplace reaching a 36 billion gallon total in 2022. Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it is produced from plant products or wastes and not from fossil fuels. Ethanol is blended with gasoline for use in most areas across the country.

The E15 petition was submitted to EPA by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009. In April 2009, EPA sought public comment on the petition and received about 78,000 comments.

The petition was submitted under a Clean Air Act provision that allows EPA to waive the act's prohibition against the sale of a significantly altered fuel if the petitioner shows that the new fuel will not cause or contribute to the failure of the engine parts that ensure compliance with the act's emissions limits.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/regs/fuels/additive/e15/

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's Decision on E15

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to allow the use of fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol in late-model cars and light trucks:

"Today's announcement from EPA is an important step toward making America more energy independent and creating much-needed jobs in rural America. The announcement will help get existing ethanol capacity into the market.

Increasing the use of ethanol in automobiles and light trucks not only provides biomass and biofuel producers with additional revenue enhancing opportunities, it will help us reach the Obama Administration's goal of increasing renewable fuels usage in the U.S. marketplace to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

Today's action by Administrator Jackson and the EPA provides assurance to farmers, ranchers and the renewable fuels industry that the government backs the use of home grown energy in our cars and trucks. At the same time, more work is needed and we hope EPA and the Department of Energy complete an evaluation of 2001-2006 models soon."

On Thursday, October 21, Secretary Vilsack will discuss the progress USDA and other federal agencies are making toward achieving the 36 billion gallon biofuel production goal mandated by the Renewable Fuels Standard and new efforts by the Obama administration to bolster the industry and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Other topics of the address will include ensuring that infrastructure is in place to ease the production and use of domestically produced renewable transportation fuel, as well as the administration's strategy to foster renewable energy nationwide.

POET CEO comments on E15 approval

Broin: EPA decision a 'positive first step toward opening the market'

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Oct. 13, 2010) – Following the EPA's decision today to allow drivers the option to use 15 percent ethanol blends in 2007 and newer vehicles, POET CEO Jeff Broin issued the following statement:

"Approval of E15 in 2007 and newer vehicles is a positive first step toward opening the market for more ethanol to compete with gasoline. However, the EPA must move quickly to take the next step: approval of E15 for use in older vehicles.

"The arguments being made right now against E15 are the same as those made about E10 back in the late 1980s, when I entered the ethanol industry. Seventy billion gallons later, we have proven those arguments false, just as research on E15 is proving critics wrong today.

"Greater market access will help give investors the needed confidence to commit to bringing cellulosic ethanol to commercial scale. Many projects, POET's Project LIBERTY among them, are ready for commercialization but hindered by unnecessary limits on ethanol content in fuel."

About POET

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 22-year-old company produces more than 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol and 9 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed annually from 26 production facilities nationwide. POET also operates a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit http://www.poet.com.


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  • 121 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      In Missouri the 91+ isn't supposed to have ethanol. BP sells 92 by my work and 93 by my home.
      I am in a 2007 Honda Civic. I got 10% better mileage when I stopped burning corn.

      Did anyone notice how many ol' beaters were on the sides of highways over the last couple years? far more than in the previous years, before ethanol was mandated.

      Cash for clunkers. Celebrities who can afford to buy into megafarms get tax subsidies for the corn we burn.

      What no one cares about is depleting our aquifers. I could care less about my car if I have to fight and kill for water.

      Janice
      • 4 Years Ago
      You are being fed an outright lie by the epa - pun intended. E10 is bad for your car, bad for the environment and more than bad for your food pocketbook. And, it promotes unfair competition because the government has to subsidize the ethanol industry in order for it to stay in business. This decision will go down in history as one of the absolute WORST decisions the government has ever made and "it" has made more than a few. And, to quote someone who is from within the industry - what a joke. Did you really expect him to say anything except what he said. IT IS A LIE! Corn-based ethanol is not the answer!
      Carl Angers
      • 4 Years Ago
      Gregg, actually through use of crop residue management, corn will build up the soil. But I still think that corn is only good for two things. Food (both people and livestock) and whiskey.
      Carl Angers
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is just the old big ag payment program from the '70s, just repackaged. At one time in my life, I worked for USDA and the big guys aren't going to tell you that both algae and switchgrass are better sources of ethanol than corn. But Archer-Daniels-Midland and other corporate ag don't control algae and switchgrass marketing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Gawd, I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

      Mowhawk (and now its parner Husky) was selling ethanol-blended gas in Canada since the early '80's when I got here. Every vehicle I've owned since then has used it. From carbs to injectors, foreign or domestic, none have had a problem with it. Octane ratings start at 87 and can go as high as 94. And my driving style has more of an effect on mileage that the gas does.

      I figure you'd have more problems with the dishwater you call gas in the states.

      A bit off-topic but, you can buy 94 at Chevron and Shell, and a minimum of a 87-91 (low and high grades at the same station) at any gas station. I was in California last Christmas and had a hard time finding anything above 87 outside of big cities.

      My recently departed high mileage Durango ws quite happy on a steady diet of ethanol blend, but knocked like hell on the fuels of west coast states.

      I wouldn't worry too much about my injectors on the stuff. Now blow-torching a piston a whole 'nother story
      • 4 Years Ago
      i love it, 55 posts and everyone of them bashing ethanol. clearly you guys should all just stick to autoblog green if all you care about is economy. not a single person here mentioning how totally bad a$$ it is for FI cars. and corroding parts? i've never seen a single part wear out and i've been doing it for 5 years now (in cars not meant for e85). it has however cleaned the piston tops, cleaned the intake manifolds, and other components.

      i picked up about 50whp by switching from 93 to e85 in my 100,000 mile daily driven car. in my race car i run strictly e85 (makes 600whp, 2.0L turbo)... it costs me 1.90$ per gallon to fill up. to make similar power in gas, i would have to spend 7-10 dollars a gallon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You must have either a turbo or otherwise high compression car and live in the corn belt.
        e85 sure isn't that cheap on the west coast.

        ethanol is a killer fuel. It's just that modern cars are not tuned to run on it at all. so they blow the extra octane out the tailpipe and you get worse fuel economy out of it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @ Tena...I remember buying 'gasahol' for my car in 1979 here in Georgia. Ethanol has come and gone over the years in most places and has always been in other places....but this time around the door has been kicked wide open and alternative fuels are a part of our supply system like they have never been before....and are here to stay.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not sorry but "Should be fine" are they joking? This is akin to a doctor saying "You should be fine" after asking them about your chest pain problems. I dont wish to be driving my 1995 240SX and one day be stuck on the side of the road due to the fact that the Ethanol ate away at my rubber fuel lines to the engine. That and I know a few people who own muscle cars who dispise E10 since they have had to rebuild their carburators twice a year now, and replace fuel lines also.
      Gill
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another way for the oil company to make more mony. I drive an Izuzu 2002
      used to get 19 miles per gallon now i am lucky to 15 miles per gallon and it is due to the new stuff they put in your gas.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Producing ethanol consumes an enormous amount of water to make it. I think the ratio is about 5 to 1. Then, ethanol has doubled the price of corn which has increased the cost of everything from eggs to meat because corn is used for feed. Then lastly and most importantly, if you use a blended gasoline with 10% ethanol, you loose about 10% in your fuel mileage over using 100% gasoline. In my Seville, I went from 29 mpg down to 26 mpg which is over a 10% loss. In my Avalon, I went from 37 mpg down to 32 mpg and again, this is over a 10% loss. These are all highway driven miles and none are city driven miles. In the end, there is no gain because you are using just as much gasoline to travel the same distance. If my guess is right, I will lose another 5% in my fuel mileage if they approve 15% ethanol. Why waste natural resources along with corn to make ethanol that gives you a ZERO benefit. My next question is, why then are we using it and why is the EPA approving it and shoveling it down our throats? There must be some enormous kickbacks that are occurring somewhere because this has the appearance of defrauding the American consumer.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, get a grip! The price of eggs has doubled? In what universe? Where I live, Large eggs are somewhere around .89 and Jumbo are around 1.00 (give or take a dime). Eggs have been essentially that price my entire life.

        Look, I will say this: I 100% believe that IF we're going to use ethanol, it should be first done with wastes. It only makes sense--but it IS harder to convert waste products to ethanol because the bonds are harder to break. It's not like you can just start stuffing woodchips in a fermenter instead of corn. But until that gets easier, the best option is sugarcane. Why can't we use sugarcane? That's a whole OTHER lobby protecting itself--the sugar lobby IS just as powerful as corn's...sugar wants protection from cheap sugar in South America.

        I drive about 25k/year and my car has been right around 24.8 since the day I bought it 44k miles ago. Cold hurts it, but I stick 87 E10 in it and it's just fine.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is another attmpt by the Federal government to prop up a product that cannot stand on its own in the market place. Get reday to see your miles/per/gallon decline as more ethanol menas less gasoline. Therefore lower energy per gallon. It is time to vote all EPA supporters out of office.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This whole mess is just for the farmers. And the writer's comment that the arguments against E10 have been proven false is a lie! Engines do run worse on E10. Ethanol has less power than gasoline. That 10% ethanol causes you to get 5-10% less MPG per tankful. The oil companies make out on this because for every 20 gallons you fill up, you're only getting 18 gallons of gas. Ethanol doesn't have to be pumped out of the ground, nor transported from the middle east, and you don't have to pay the emirs $75 a barrel for it. So how is it more expensive? ANOTHER LIE.
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