E 15 Progress?

It has been 10 months since the EPA first delayed their decision on whether or not to move the minimum blend for non flex-fuel vehicles to E15 from E10. Twice, the EPA has delayed their decision because a lack of testing data. Finally, we may have some answers coming our way.

In a Congressional Hearing on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lisa Jackson said a decision on E15 for vehicles 2007 or newer should be announced by the middle of October. As for vehicles between 2001-2006, Jackson said that a decision should be made sometime in December.

“We are prepared to render our decisions within two weeks,” after getting the data, Jackson said.

There is no doubt that these potential moves would be a boost to the domestic ethanol industry, but failing to test vehicles prior to 2001 is an absolute failure by the EPA. Ricardo INC., an automotive engineering technology leader did its own study showing that E15 can be safely used in vehicles between the years of 1994-2000, which represent 25% of the vehicles on the road today.

While the ethanol industry will applaud any blend increase, there is concern that allowing only certain vehicle years will cause customer confusion at the pump. Besides confusion, the EPA is only delaying any potential growth of the clean energy economy in the United States.

“The EPA’s decision to bifurcate the E15 blend will likely confuse consumers and retailers, hindering additional ethanol sales,” said South Dakota Corn Growers Association President and Oldham, SD farmer, Gary Duffy. “Limiting E15 to only vehicles 2007 and newer drastically limits market penetration as those years represent such a small percentage of vehicles on the road today.”

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