Specifically, OPEI says the Agency's "weak labeling effort is inadequate to avoid potential misfueling" and argues that products not designed to operate on ethanol blends above E10 could be damaged if they are fueled with E15.
The Renewable Fuels Association counters OPEI's claims, stating:
Two different opinions on the same biofuel topic. Until the litigation is settled, OPEI's legal challenge prevents the EPA's finalized E15 warning label from being applied to pumps.EPA's label more than adequately informs consumers as to the proper use of E15. Similar labeling, such as for the use of E85 ethanol fuel, have been around for years without incident. EPA's E15 label is far more descriptive as to the approved uses for E15 and eliminates the guess work for consumers. We believe the American motoring public will be quite capable of determining if E15 is right for their vehicles.
EPA's Weak Ethanol Label Inadequate to Avoid Misfueling, Damage to Products
Alexandria, Va. – September 21, 2011 – The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), along with automakers and marine manufacturers, today announced a formal legal challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Regulation to Mitigate Misfueling" rule which was meant to address concerns about 15 percent ethanol blends and non-road products and older model-year vehicles.
OPEI and partner groups maintain that EPA's weak labeling effort is completely inadequate to protect consumers and avoid potential misfueling and damage to millions of legacy products not designed to run on any ethanol fuel higher than E10.
"We are asking that the EPA do more to protect the consumer. We need to educate the public on a new fuel entering the market that is about to fundamentally change how we purchase and dispense gasoline. And, we need to ensure that consumers can still find E10 for the millions of product - lawnmowers, chainsaws, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs, boats and older cars – that still use an E10 legacy fuel," said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.
OPEI points out that the EPA's prior experience with fuel transitions and misfueling demonstrates that labeling alone is insufficient to prevent misfueling. As the EPA led the transition to unleaded fuels, the Agency reported a misfueling rate of nearly 15 percent almost ten years after the introduction of unleaded gasoline - even with a physical barrier at the pump.
"EPA even denied our petition to mandate the continued availability of E10, so consumers will still be able to purchase E10 at their local gasoline stations. Consumers are really on their own at this point, and we just think that is unfair and potentially harmful from both a safety and economic perspective," said Kiser.
(OPEI says that a simple E15 label is completely inadequate to avoid misfueling and does not protect consumers and business owners from potential equipment damage and safety risks. OPEI says the EPA should do more.)
Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade group, petitioned the EPA in March 2009 to raise the limit on ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Several engine product and auto manufacturers as well as others urged EPA to be deliberative in its review process, assuring thorough and adequate testing to ensure that E15 would not harm existing products or pose safety risks. By approving E15 use in a small subset of engines on the road, there is a high risk that consumers will unknowingly or mistakenly put E15 in products for which it has not been approved.
In March 2011, auto, marine, motorcycle, outdoor power equipment, personal watercraft and snowmobile groups filed a petition for rulemaking today asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the continued sale and availability of gasoline blends of no greater than 10 percent ethanol (E10) for the 400 million engine products used by tens of millions of people every day in the U.S.
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 80 engine and equipment manufacturers worldwide in the utility, forestry, landscape, and lawn and garden industry. OPEI is a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) in the development of safety standards. For more information, visit www.OPEI.org.