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Supreme Court turns down E15 challenge

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The decision paves the way for further expansion of the fuel.

Chuck Bowen | June 26, 2013

 WASHINGTON – In one of its lesser-anticipated rulings this week, the U.S. Supreme Court quietly rejected a challenge from automakers and small engine groups related to the sale of E15 fuel.

The decision means a lower court ruling allowing the sale of the fuel stands, which paves the way for further expansion of the fuel.

A mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, E15 came from the Renewable Fuel Standard, created under the Energy Policy Act in 2005, as a mandate that ethanol, advanced biofuels and cellulosic fuels be blended into gasoline at certain levels by goal years.

E15 is not approved for use in outdoor power equipment or auto engines built before 2001. Studies have shown that the higher levels of ethanol damage fuel lines and fuel pumps, and can cause engine failure.

For contractors in the field, though, this week’s ruling means more ethanol in the fuel supply sooner. Here are fueling tips Lawn & Landscape pulled together to keep you and your equipment safe.

“We’re deeply disappointed in the decision,” says Kris Kiser, executive director at OPEI.

Now, he added, “it all gets real.” He predicts ethanol will be incentivized to increase sales, retailers will expand the reach of blender pumps outside of the Corn Belt and, ultimately, there will be lawsuits over engine failures.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to roll over on this,” he says.

E15 and the RFS pit powerful groups against each other – automakers, oil companies and the agriculture lobby all have a vested interest in where the legislation goes. Lawmakers, most notably in Florida and Maine, have been working to ban E15 fuel from their states.

The next move for OPEI and other groups, Kiser says, is to lobby Congress to revamp or revoke the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“Everybody knows there’s a problem, but nobody knows what the fix is,” Kiser says. “It’s a huge challenge.”

At the GIE+EXPO in October, OPEI will roll out a campaign to educate contractors, dealers and consumers about the dangers of E15 and how they can prevent engine damage, Kiser says.

 

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