AAA is continuing its assault against higher ethanol use in the transportation energy, speaking out in support of reducing the renewable fuel mandate for 2014. The organization said that renewable-fuel requirements need to be lowered to avoid the so-called "blend wall" that could drive up gas prices. In addition to the threat of such higher prices, AAA continued to call gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend, or E15, "potentially damaging" to vehicles compared to the typical 10-percent blend being used.

AAA cited reports saying that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recommend cutting the renewable fuels mandate next year by about 16 percent to about 15.2 billion gallons. AAA says these cuts are appropriate because, as opposed to many projections, overall fuel use remains relatively unchanged due to an economy that's growing slower than expected as well as the proliferation of more fuel-efficient vehicles. AAA also cited a report from last year saying that just five percent of the 240 million vehicles on US roads have been approved by their manufacturers for E15 use.

Late last year, AAA joined Big Oil's campaign against E15 legalization, saying that fuel with higher alcohol content poses long-term risks for light-duty vehicle engines. Not everyone agrees. Last month, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report said that E15 will have no "meaningful" effect on car engines. Of course, the report was sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The EPA officially approved the legalization of E15 sales last June. Read AAA's recent statement below.
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AAA Urges EPA to Adjust 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard to Protect Drivers

Leaked EPA Proposal Would Strike Fair Compromise between Consumers and Industries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 25, 2013) – AAA urges the Environmental Protection Agency and the Administration to lower the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline for 2014. More realistic targets would protect drivers by preventing a possible surge in gas prices or the increased use of potentially damaging E15 gasoline.

"It is just not possible to blend the amount of ethanol required by current law given recent declines in fuel consumption, and it is time for public policy to acknowledge this reality," said Bob Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA. "The EPA should lower ethanol targets immediately as part of the proposed 2014 RFS rule to support consumers and promote alternative fuels."

Reports indicate the EPA has recommended a cut in the RFS biofuel mandate for 2014 to 15.21 billion gallons from 18.15 billion gallons, which would represent about 9.33 percent of expected gasoline sales next year. This proposal would prevent the market from hitting a "blend wall" that would either result in higher gas prices or necessitate the increased use of E15 and E85 gasoline. AAA would expect negative consumer consequences were ethanol requirements to exceed ten percent of expected gasoline sales given that most cars can only use E10 gasoline, which contains 10 percent ethanol.

"Corn-based ethanol can support the economy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," continued Darbelnet. "It is great news to hear that the EPA is considering a RFS proposal that would support this home-grown alternative while acknowledging the inability to achieve an outdated mandate."

A recently circulated document indicates that the EPA has proposed reducing the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline in 2014. This recommendation was included in a draft notice of proposed rulemaking provided to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which must approve the rule. The EPA is required to formally propose a rule for 2014 by the end of November.

"There is a real opportunity to put motorists first in what has been a very contentious disagreement between various industries," continued Darbelnet. "Gas and car maintenance costs are high enough as it is, and it would be a relief to know that the RFS will not cause significant problems for consumers next year."

The RFS requires renewable fuels such as ethanol to be blended into gasoline in increasing amounts each year. When Congress passed the law, experts predicted that U.S. gasoline consumption would continue to rise, which would support correspondingly higher ethanol use. This has proven incorrect as gasoline consumptions has remained relatively flat due to more fuel efficient vehicles, a weaker economy and changes in driving habits.

The volume of ethanol required by law to be blended in 2014 is likely to exceed the amount that is possible, due to infrastructure and market limitations. Blenders unable to meet RFS requirements would be subject to significant fines, which could incentivize gasoline exports or burden producers with unsustainable costs. These consequences could restrict gasoline supplies and result in significant increases in gas prices paid by consumers. Alternatively, producers could sell more E15 gasoline to help meet the requirements, but this could lead to additional problems.

A AAA survey last year found that only 12 million out of the 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads were approved by manufacturers to use E15. Thirteen manufacturers stated that the use of E15 may void warranty coverage. AAA's automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 could result in costly problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false "check engine" lights in some cars. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed by AAA were not familiar with E15, indicating a strong likelihood of consumer confusion leading to misfueling.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.


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  • 17 Comments
      Allch Chcar
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't see the point in delaying after all the reliability studies into E15 and even E20. All the fears of failure have turned out to be unfounded or at best misplaced. It's not as if E15 is going to be common anytime soon. IMHO, Blender pumps with E20 and E30 can't come fast enough. I'm already running E30 in my '12 Mazda5. When it makes sense financially, of course. If I bought a BRZ or any other DI engine I'd probably run it on E85 exclusively.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Allch Chcar
        Allch Chcar -- I personally just filled up with an E50 mix of E85 at $2.69/gallon and E10 at $3.29/gallon. That gave me a 96 octane blend for about $3 bucks a gallon, where the highest octane they had was 91 octane at $3.59/gallon. I get higher octane at a lower price. My turbo engine takes that octane and translates it into enough more power that even my wife notices. With more power I get lower mpg, just like most mods that increase horsepower. My long term logs show an 8% loss in mpg with that mix, but I'm buying the fuel at an even bigger discount. A 17% discount on this fillup. I'm getting PAID to enjoy more power from my turbo car. The other blend I do is an E30 blend. At the E30 blend, my long term logs indicate a rounding error on MPG compared to when I'm forced to fill with E10 when I'm not near the station that sells E85 in my neighborhood when I need to do a fill-up. So I save money at E30 without a measurable difference in MPG, but I don't gain any power over premium gas. Either mix saves me money over filling up with premium. And I have emissions test results going back 6 years that show on the dyno I still emit less pollution than when I bought my car and first emissions tested it with E10.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Allch Chcar
        @ Allch Chcar, Whether or not you can run your car on ethanol, without incurring mechanical difficulties, why would you ? What are you gaining by substituting an environmentally undesirable fuel like gasoline, for an even more environmentally harmful product like ethanol, which doesn't even deliver as much energy? (Unless you either live in the corn-belt, or work for the RFA ?)
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marco Polo
          I guessed you missed the "When it makes sense financially, of course" part of his post. Many cars actually manage to achieve BETTER mpg on ethanol blends despite the lower energy content. That is because energy content is not the only factor in engine efficiency. "Previous assumptions held that ethanol’s lower energy content directly correlates with lower fuel economy for drivers. Those assumptions were found to be incorrect. Instead, the new research suggests that there is an optimal blend level of ethanol and gasoline—most likely E20 or E30—at which cars will get better mileage than predicted based strictly on the fuel’s per-gallon Btu content. The optimal blend varies with the vehicle, according to the findings." http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/12/study-finds-cer.html
      Jamie Houk
      • 1 Year Ago
      "...report said that E15 will have no "meaningful" effect on car engines." Yes but what about motorcycles, lawn mowers, snow blowers, and generators. I seriously doubt gas stations are going to have a separate pump for them. as it is now many small engines will not run or run with a reduced life expectancy on E10.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jamie Houk
        The E15 law mandates that not a single drop of E15 be sold at any gas station unless there is at least one dedicated E10 or E0 pump. So you can "seriously doubt" all you want, but the reality is that you will always have fuel for those items that you cannot legally fuel with E15. If you are buying any small engine that does not explicitly say it is E10 certified, and you live in an E10 area, blame yourself. Because all the top manufacturers have E10 certified versions of their products. Isn't it sad that gas cars were all 100% E10 certified 3 decades ago, and yet some small engine builders have yet to catch up with 30 year old technology? It is almost like they have a plan for the obsolescence of their product that will make you buy more of them, while shifting the blame to the fuel. As if it were impossible to build an E10 compatible lawn mower for the cost of pocket change when they are being built brand new.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Nerd. Stop being intellectually dishonest. You know there is no E15 mandate. And you know that my post does not say there is an E15 mandate. It is exactly the opposite. The only mandate in the E15 regulations is that at least one E10 or E0 pump always be available wherever E15 is sold. E15 pumps make sense for any of the thousands of gas stations that already have E85 storage tanks. These stations would not need another storage tank in order to offer E15. They can just blend E85 with E10 or E0 at the pump, the same way all gas stations blend mid-grade gas at the pumps using a storage tank of premium and a storage tank of regular octane gasoline.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Seems like only a few weeks ago you were arguing that there is NO mandate ? Here's a question for you oh wiseone: Why would any station owner want to put in an E15 pump when they've already had E10 pumps crammed up their butts ? err, unless someone was making them do it ? typical bigot - can't stand anyone to have a differing opinion from yourself, just have to childishly call people names, don't you ?
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          "The E15 law mandates . . . " There's that mandate term again. You said it - you admit it.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          All laws are mandates. You are mandated not to jaywalk too. Does that scare you? Make you freak out? OMG!! It is a jaywalking MANDATE!!! the gubbermiint is stealing your freeeee-dumbs!! But nice job in selectively quoting me in order to make it look like I said something I didn't say. Are you that stupid that you couldn't read past 4 words because that is beyond your reading comprehension? Or do you just think fellow uneducated people who share your same political hate are too ignorant to notice your games? Because I also put in my post the following (also not an accurate quote, just like your misquote): "The E15 law mandates that not a single drop of E15 be sold at any gas station" What a sad and pitiful little man that you have to quote someone out of context in order to make a point. Troll away dumb one, troll away.
          Allch Chcar
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          E15 is not mandated. Read the Renewable Fuel Standard. Gasoline cannot contain more than 10% Ethanol but is only required to have 5% unless state is exempt. Anything 10-15% Ethanol is sold as E15 and must be clearly labeled as such.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well if ever Washington needed a wake up call as to folly the of persisting to support an increasingly unpopular, harmful and economically disastrous industry, the active opposition from 58 million members of the AAA should convince the policy makers, to disregard the Big Ag and Farm lobby and do what's right ! End the Ethanol mandate, today !
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Notice in the article it is only big oil, but not big Agri or big farm? I cannot imagine why...
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      In 1925 there was in Germany a so called "Reichskraftsprit" The Reich spirit fuel It was made of 25% Ethanol so today you cold call it E25. So 88 years ago it was no problem and today ppl loose their minds. light-duty vehicle engines? are those the engines for the so called light trucks that are just cars only they don't comply with standards? I don't get it. I voided the warranty of all my cars. I put E70 in my lexus hybrid, E45 in my mums fiesta. I am doing this since 10 years. my friends Old corolla made in 1994 greatfully sipped E45 the small japanese engine began to purr like a kitten. but also 4.0 jeep cherokee (high output) just takes Ethanol (E40) without problems. then I put it in a ols VW Jetta/Vento from 1993. (Monopoint injection) it took 45% Ethanol and worked just fine. I could continue...
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        @ Smoking_dude Reichskraftsprit was a gasoline-benzene mixture with an alcohol additive. The alcohol was derived from potatoes, and later, sugar-beet. So it bears very little resemblance to the US corn based ethanol industry. Benzene is a particularly nasty carcinogen, and hasn't been used in gasoline for many years. As long ago as 1948 the American Petroleum Institute concluded that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero." ! But why would you use the ethanol produced in the US ? Every major environmental group and reputable scientist, has become very alarmed at the massive damage to the environment caused by the US corn-based ethanol industry.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        Ethanol is for Nazi's! I knew it!
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          By the very definition for the acronym N.A.Z.I., ethanol is indeed a N.A.Z.I. plot. [from our fourth branch of government; that makes laws (mandates), enforces them, judges and penalizes]
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