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While not the most flashy of lawsuits, the battle over letting E15 (a fuel made up of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) into the national fuel supply just got a lot bigger today. That's because the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – the trade association that represents 12 major automakers – joined the suit, which was originally brought by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, according to The Detroit News. The EPA announced in mid-October it was approving E15 for use in model year 2007 and newer vehicles, something the lawsuit claims violates the Clean Air Act because the EPA does not have the power to "approve applications for new fuels and fuel additives" for some vehicles and not others.
The EPA is delaying its official decision on approving E15 for 2001-2006 model year vehicles until early 2011. The Agency is also being sued by the American Petroleum Institute and nine food and farm groups; again because the EPA is running afoul of the Clean Air Act. In response to that lawsuit, EPA Deputy Press Secretary Betsaida Alcantara told Green Car Advisor a while back:
[The] decision was based on strict adherence to the Clean Air Act and was grounded firmly in science. The agency relied on rigorous testing that the Energy Department did on 19 car models, in consultation with automakers and fuel suppliers. This decision is sound, and the agency is confident that it will withstand legal challenge.


[Source: The Detroit News]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 2 Months Ago
      and MOTORHEAD,
      Thanks for the lead on the Autoblog post.

      Did you read where the farmer says it's costing $10 a gallon to make the stuff, and lots fo the refineries are going out of business?

      Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/12/21/report-detroit-carmakers-join-lawsuit-against-epa-looking-to-ov/#comments
      • 2 Months Ago
      Hey Lad,
      I really like that approach - MIX AT THE PUMP.
      I can get my 100% gasoline for my boat and to maximize my car's gas mileage and minimize the damage to my engine.

      Anyone who feels good using 10%, or wants to risk 15% can do so.
      E85 users can have at it.
      Don't want to go over 85% or people might start drinking the stuff (subsidized drunks).

      Let the market decide.
      That's the American spirit and what made this country great - until recently.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is a hard one for me.

      Pros:
      + Less imported oil.
      + Possibly lower emissions?
      + Gas prices stay low
      + etc.

      Cons:
      + We subsidize ethanol, so essentially the govt. is paying for part of your fillup.
      + Could damage some cars.
      + Very slightly Less MPG.
      + Corn prices WILL go up. They already skyrocketed 3x+ starting in 2005 when we started using ethanol instead of MTBE.
      + etc.

      For me, it is hard to look at all of these measures and think one way is better than the other. Frankly i'd rather we stop subsidizing everything and make people pay for the real cost of gasoline. That would be a stimulus to drive alternative energy adoption in itself.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Sorry. Don't know why that went under your comment. Must have been a slip of the keyboard stroke.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Don't believe all the hype about damage to older vehicles.

        There is a group of farmers in the west that run E-85 in cars from the late 80's and 90's with no problems and the worst decrease in mileage is about 1.2%.

        I ran 10% ethanol in my 78 mustang and got 30mpg back in 78 and experienced no problems.

        Ethanol was used in every gallon of gas from 1984 to 2004 to raise the octane to useable levels. Now, thanks to Bush eliminating the oxygneate standard they use toluene,xylene and benzene, all very toxic and carcinagenic.
      • 2 Months Ago
      that's nice. automakers showing their true color
      harlanx6
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't trust any of them! It's all spin! (definition of spin=lying!) Alcohols make reasonably good fuels and we should encourage their use.
        harlanx6
        • 2 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        That's a good solution, Lad.
        • 2 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        The advantage of more ethanol is you reduce our need for oil; however, since you are still burning chemicals, you are still producing air pollution, perhaps of an even more toxic nature. I'm all for ethanol as an interim measure before full BEVs. The downside is there are still many cars on the road that can be damaged by more than a 10% mixture.

        How about you just open up the pumps to pump 10% to 100% ethanol by a selective mixing valve at the pump and let the driver decide, based on the recommended blend by the auto maker?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Carney, the owner's manual for a 2007 model vehicle that I own, carries dire warnings in it against using fuel containing more than 10% ethanol. There are a whole lot more than 19 different powertrains on the market since 2007, so for that and other reasons, I'm quite sure it is not one of those that the EPA tested. So if the EPA says it's okay, and the vehicle manufacturer says it isn't, and I use that fuel and the engine has a failure, who pays?

      It would be one thing if the EPA approved E15 for vehicles going forward from today's date, and allowed/required vehicle emission certification to be done on E15 to positively prove that it is working okay, but it's quite another to go back in time and say that it's okay for millions of vehicles having the same dire warning in the owner's manual that mine does - vehicles that were never designed with E15 in mind.
        • 2 Months Ago
        The dire warnings were insisted on by the automakers' lawyers. The reality is that with today's materials it is highly unlikely that E15 will cause any problems at all. Brazil MANDATES E25, and there have been no problems there with its remaining "gasoline-only" cars. There's in fact lots of anecdotal evidence of people using far higher ethanol blends in their recent "gasoline-only" cars without the slightest problem. This is all a case of chair standing, skirt-clutching, and screeching at the smallest mouse that ever was.

        Having said all that, I still thing the ethanol lobby made a mistake in pursuing this, because of the predictable tidal wave of FUD, backlash, hysteria, and aggressive ignorance. It should have put its finite political capital funds, momentum, etc. into pushing for a flex fuel mandate for all future cars - a solution than would neatly bypass the dead weight of current, easily-spooked, gasoline-only drivers, and focus on the future.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Instead of wasting their customers' money on this lawsuit, the automakers could just cough up the measly $130 per new car at the factory it would take to make their cars able to handle not only E15 but E100, and even M100 (methanol, which is even more "corrosive" to cheap inferior materials than ethanol).

      Instead they've chosen obstruction, FUD, and keeping us dependent on our OPEC enemies.

      That's why we need to have the Open Fuel Standards Act. End the dithering and just make flex fuel a standard feature like seat belts.
      • 2 Months Ago
      10% was a stupid waste of resources, so let's increase it to 15%.

      Oxymoron logic we've grown to expect from Washington DC..
        • 2 Months Ago
        Erm.

        Don't forget that Ethanol replaces lead and MTBE as an oxygenate in order to make gasoline burn cleaner and also raise it's octane rating.

        How much % of that is oxygenate and how much % is filler, i wonder... But don't entirely dismiss Ethanol as a fuel additive. The alternatives are so much more environmentally ruinous.
        • 2 Months Ago
        I'll tell you what a stupid waste of resources is. Letting our cars be unnecessarily locked in to the one fuel, among the many possible fuels out there, that is controlled by our enemies. Thus being helpless and unable to avoid MASSIVELY OVERPAYING for that oil to the tune of hundreds of billions a year, every year. When not using OUR MONEY to make war on us, here's what our enemies have been doing with it:

        From "Energy Victory" by Robert Zubrin, page 40 (softcover):
        ---
        In the three decades since the [1973] embargo, [the Saudis] have pulled in more than $2 trillion.

        The Saudis have not used this money well. [...] Most of this vast treasure has been wasted on the most naricissistic expenditures the world has ever seen. Hundreds of palaces have been built; luxury cars, yachts, private jets, and thoroughbred horses bought and dissipated by the thousands; narcotics, fine liquors, jewelry, haute couture, child se% slaves, and concub1nes purchased and consumed by the ton.
        ---

        Now THAT's waste.

        And you're whining about the starch being taken out of corn to make renewable, non soot or sulfur emitting fuel, while the rest of the corn is used as animal feed?
      • 2 Months Ago
      The issue is that the EPA issued a partial waiver, which apparently they don't have the legal standing to do.

      Why won't the EPA issue a full waiver for all engines? Is it possible that the EPA has found what the engine makers claim - that E15 *does* cause emissions failures in many non-road engines?

      I think the EPA is well aware that E15 is bad for a large percentage on engines, otherwise they would have allowed its unrestricted use. The ethanol industry claims that E15 is safe, why should we doubt them when it comes to the product they're trying to sell?


      I'd like to point out to Carney that the automakers aren't in this because of their new cars - they're in this because of the cars they've already sold. New cars (2007 and newer) are clear to use E15. If anything, the massive number of engine failures that could happen if people put E15 in older cars would be a positive boon to the automakers, because everyone will have to buy replacement cars... if the automakers were in this for money, they would want the E15 to be easier to get so the older cars are messed up faster.

      Remember - a step towards ethanol and alcohol fuels is a step towards easily refuelable FCVs!
        • 2 Months Ago
        "They fear fending off expensive litigation - no matter how baseless or frivolous, each suit costs money."

        This is tacit admission that the automakers are correct: cars *will* fail due to E15 and that the automakers will be held liable.

        You're right - that's exactly what they're trying to avoid - being sued by people whose cars are damaged because the EPA acted improperly, allowing the sale of E15.

        I think Brian P raises a very valid point - someone will get sued. Either the automakers, the ethanol/fuel providers, or the EPA. Somehow, I think the EPA is more likely to avoid being held criminally negligent, due to the obvious fact that they are a federal agency. That's why the engine makers are fighting against the EPA's decision.
        • 2 Months Ago
        The automakers are in it for the money, of course. They fear fending off expensive litigation - no matter how baseless or frivolous, each suit costs money.
      • 2 Months Ago
      I can now confidently say (along with recent biofuel pork approvals) that Obama administration is anti-sustainability - or atleast they don't care about it.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "This group of politicians has done more to advance automobile science than the prior Bushies by a long shot."

        Your statement has no basis in reality.

        The Bush administration funded advanced vehicle technologies for eight solid years - leading directly to the batteries that we are seeing used in the Volt, as well as other advanced battery technologies.

        Obama's huge funding of manufacturing facilities is great - no doubt - but those factories will be building batteries that were developed with funded by the Bush administration.

        "Over the past decade, VTP support enabled A123 Systems to develop advanced
        lithium-ion batteries based on its nanoscale lithium-iron-phosphate cathode material... Through VTP-supported contracts, A123 Systems is beginning to commercialize lithium-ion battery systems for HEVs and PHEVs."

        http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/47925.pdf

        If you need more evidence of what Bush administration funding did for advanced batteries, just read the reports:

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/program/2008_energy_storage.pdf

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/program/2004_energy_storage.pdf

        (just change the year to see each report from 2001-2009)
        • 2 Months Ago
        Disagree:
        This group of politicians has done more to advance automobile science than the prior Bushies by a long shot.

        One must remember that all these problems are symptoms of the real problem in Washington; And, that is the power Big Business holds over paying for the election of the parties. All politicians must do the bidding of the richest of the people because that's who pays for the elections.

        If we had public-paid elections for Congress and the President, perhaps they would do work for the good of the people. Trust in our Government by the American middle-class appears to be at a longtime low. One wonders what benefits our elected officials will vote for the rich next.
      • 2 Months Ago
      See what Americans really think about ethanol.
      Go to AUTOBLOG (not Autoblog green).
      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/12/21/report-detroit-carmakers-join-lawsuit-against-epa-looking-to-ov/#comments

      Autoblog Green is mostly green weinies - brain-washed whiners and fascist lefties.
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