Four House Energy Panel Members Urge EPA to Delay Granting E15 Waiver

Four members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to postpone approving 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) until the Department of Energy completes testing, based on concerns that higher ethanol blends in gasoline could damage some vehicle engines.

Four members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to postpone approving 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) until the Department of Energy completes testing, based on concerns that higher ethanol blends in gasoline could damage some vehicle engines.

The current limit is 10 percent, but ethanol producers want the agency to raise that to E15. EPA says it is considering allowing E15 to be used only in newer vehicles but has put off making a decision until at least this fall while additional engine studies are completed. EPA officials have said the agency is likely to grant a partial waiver for E15 for model year 2007 vehicles and newer, perhaps as early as September.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas), Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said higher ethanol blends "may cause durability or operability problems, or increased air pollution" in some vehicles.

"We believe that EPA should not approve the use of E15 until the agency has sufficient test results to allow you to assure consumers that the use of E15 will not harm their vehicles or engines," they said.

The letter also includes three pages of questions asking for details on tests, assurances about potential liabilities and air quality, potential misfueling problems and whether states could ban the sale of E15 if a partial waiver was granted.

Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, praised the congressmen in a July 29 statement for "acting in the best interests of every American who owns a motor vehicle or gasoline-powered equipment."

"While some in the ethanol industry are telling us all to pump first and ask questions later, our government has an obligation to protect consumers and first get answers to the questions the congressmen have raised," Drevna said. "Only comprehensive and objective scientific testing can give us an accurate picture of the impact of more ethanol in gasoline. Until that testing can be completed and thoroughly analyzed, we urge EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to take no action on increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline."

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