Industry files E15 blend limit petition with EPA

By Kris Bevill | March 05, 2009
Web exclusive posted March 9, 2009, at 12:28 p.m. CST

Ethanol lobby groups have joined forces to officially file a petition with the U.S. EPA requesting the amount of ethanol that is blended into gasoline be increased from 10 to 15 percent. The filing, which was submitted to the EPA on March 6, was accompanied by hundreds of pages of research supporting the groups' claims that no significant damage would be incurred by the nation's vehicles if the increase were made.

Newly-formed lobby group Growth Energy conducted a press conference to discuss the EPA waiver filing and to present a report conducted by the group which they said demonstrates the economic benefits related to mid-level ethanol blends. Cochairman Gen. Wesley Clark reported that Growth Energy determined that increasing the blend level to 15 percent would result in more than 136,000 new jobs and $24 billion annually for the American economy. "Increasing the ethanol blend up to E15 is a common sense solution to our economic, energy and environmental challenges," he said. (The report referred to by Clark can be viewed at www.growthenergy.org.)

In addition, Clark stressed the necessity for the continued advancement of domestically-produced renewable fuels and said that an increase in blending limits for ethanol is vital in order to move the renewable fuels industry forward. "The ethanol industry has plateaued at 10 percent," he said. "Let's get this blend wall cap lifted from E10 to E15. It's good for America." According to Clark, the waiver request was accompanied by scientific evidence proving that fueling the nation's automobiles with E15 will not detrimentally affect their performance. As for ongoing concerns dealing with small engines such as lawnmowers and boats, Clark pointed out that the waiver submittal requests the allowable limit of ethanol be increased for levels up to E15. "We're not saying that all fuel needs to be E15," he said, adding that the group believes it would still be possible for consumers to purchase fuel containing lesser amounts of ethanol.

Clark was hesitant to offer any sort of timeline as to the EPA's approval of the E15 waiver but mentioned the possibility of a more immediate agency approval for the use of E12 or E13 as a buffer before the increase to 15 percent ethanol. "Ideally, we'd like to see E12-E13 happen immediately," Clark said. "Certainly this year - maybe before summer."

Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said the association looks forward to working with the EPA and other government agencies "to ensure the full potential of a robust domestic ethanol industry is realized." He added, that while E15 is a necessary step in that direction, an immediate move to E12 would give the industry some needed breathing room to ensure economic viability.

Progress on the waiver is now up the EPA, which must review the submittal and hold public commentary hearings before completing its final ruling. Clark called upon ethanol producers to spur the agency to rule in favor of the increase, suggesting they call legislative representatives and submit comments to the EPA in support of the waiver.