E15’s Big Dance

The future is bright as hundreds of E15 stations are in the works with many expected to open, writes Bob Dinneen of RFA. It’s still early in the game for E15 and it will take time for E15 to work its way across the country, just as it did for E10.
By Bob Dinneen | February 17, 2015

From the first tip-off to the trophy presentation, March Madness brings a unique sense of competition, hope and excitement for basketball fans everywhere as teams emerge and make a run for the championship. In the same way, competition, hope and excitement abound as E15 is gaining visibility and emerging on the market in a big way. What started off in 2012 as a single station offering the higher-level blend in Lawrence, Kansas, has grown to stations in 15 states selling the fuel.

E15—which was approved by the U.S. EPA for 2001 and newer cars, trucks and SUVs—has been in the marketplace for two and a half years. It can now be purchased at stations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Not only is E15 expanding into new states, but it is advancing to the next round in other areas as well. Popular automakers such as Audi, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar and others now approve the use of the higher-level fuel blend in their new 2015 vehicles. In fact, nearly 70 percent of auto manufacturers approve the use of E15 in model year 2015 vehicles. Swish!

But no matter how much progress is made, or how well your team is doing, there will always be the naysayers who get in front of the microphone and spew their opinions without knowing the facts or doing the proper research.  In the case of E15, Big Oil and its counterparts are ginning up false concern over engine damage and misfueling. But, no matter how little faith Big Oil puts in consumers, drivers know what can and can’t be put in their fuel tanks. In fact, history reveals no known cases of engine damage or inferior performance while using E15. Moreover, there have been no known cases of misfueling in small engines, boats, pre-2001 vehicles, or other nonapproved equipment, and zero liability claims against retailers, blenders, refiners or automakers have been reported.

The fact that E15 is not causing engine problems shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the record-breaking testing E15 went through before gaining the EPA’s stamp of approval for use in vehicles 2001 and newer. The overall testing done on E15 encompassed more than 6 million miles. Separately, 43 studies examined E15 and only one—which was paid for by the American Petroleum Institute—had concerns with the blend. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has since called a technical foul after reviewing the Big Oil-funded research and finding that “the conclusion that engines will experience mechanical engine failure when operating on E15 is not supported by the data.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Since its debut, consumers have driven more than 100 million miles on E15 and the higher-octane, typically lower-priced product is delivering as promised. In fact, retailers who have made the switch over to E15 report that consumers are embracing the higher-level blend. The future is bright as hundreds of E15 stations are in the works with many expected to open in the coming weeks and months. It will take time for E15 to work its way across the country, just as it did for E10, and just as it takes time and hard work for teams to move from the Sweet 16, to the Elite Eight, to the Final Four and beyond. It’s still early in the game for E15, but it's a good bet E15 will be a bracket buster for Big Oil's lobbyists looking to keep consumers from getting in the game.

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association
202-289-3835