WASHINGTON—In answer to increasing opposition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is lowering the targeted amount of ethanol blended in gasoline.
According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association's e-newsletter, the EPA “acknowledged that a 2007 federal law sets unrealistic mandates on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline.” The federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires an increasing amount of biofuel be blended into gasoline each year—from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
However, nearly all gas sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) and, SEMA said, “there is widespread opposition to increasing that amount to 15 percent (E15).” The EPA's lowering of the targeted amount of ethanol is the first time since the agency has done that since the Renewable Fuel Standard became law in 2009.
SEMA said that, with advances in vehicle fuel economy and as cars are being driven less, the U.S. “has hit the ‘E10 blend wall.' ” The Diamond Bar, Calif.-based association has joined with a number of other organizations representing a variety of industries in asking Congress to repeal or scale-back the Renewable Fuel Standard biofuel mandates and to ban the sale of E15.
While the EPA has approved E15 for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, SEMA said the agency made it illegal to use in older vehicles for fear of equipment damage. However, the EPA only requires a gas pump warning label for unsuspecting consumers, and SEMA and others in the automotive industry have said that ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers—especially in older cars that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials.
Congress has held a number of hearings on the Renewable Fuel Standard and E15 and, according to SEMA, it is expected to consider legislation to reduce ethanol mandates in 2014.