WASHINGTON – U.S. petrochemical producers and refiners have joined a broad coalition of manufacturers, food industries, motor makers and environmental groups in urging Congress to force further scientific analysis of mid-level ethanol fuel blends.
The 39 industry, environmental, recreational and consumer food groups urged key Senate and House committees to hold hearings on whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) had adequately researched the potential safety and environmental impacts of mid-level ethanol fuel blends, specifically the 15% ethanol-gasoline mix known as E-15.
In letters to the Senate Environment Committee and the House Energy and Commerce panel, the groups noted that “EPA has indicated that it should make a decision on granting a waiver for E-15 by the end of September.”
The agency is considering a petition from leading U.S. bioethanol producers to raise the existing U.S. mandate for a 10 percent ethanol blend (E-10) in the nation’s gasoline supplies to 15 percent.
The biofuel groups argue that the U.S. automobile fleet and other gasoline combustion engines – hand-held power equipment, marine engines, off-road recreational and construction vehicles – can run safely on the higher blend.
They also argue that a mandate increase is needed to sustain the alternative fuels industry and to encourage development of non-food cellulosic ethanol.
EPA indicated in June this year that it would make a decision on the E-15 petition before Oct. 1.
But in Wednesday’s letter to the Senate and House committees, industry and environmental groups argued that the agency had not adequately researched all aspects of the environmental and use consequences of E-15 fuel blends and could not reach a science-based decision in the four weeks remaining before Oct. 1.
“For example, EPA has not released information about the mid-level blend’s impact on different types of road and non-road engines,” the letters said, “nor has it released information about how it will prevent harm to consumers from ‘misfueling’ their engines with the incorrect blend.”
“We also believe that the Department of Energy should fully expand and accelerate mid-level ethanol blends research in areas that are necessary to protect consumers,” the letters added.
The groups urged the two committees to convene hearings next month and to call on EPA and DOE to testify about the state of E-15 research before EPA makes any decision on the petition.
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