Bill introduced in House would require additional study of E15

By Holly Jessen | March 01, 2013

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to repeal the E15 waiver and require additional testing of the fuel, despite extensive testing by the U.S. DOE.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., introduced H.R. 875 soon after it was discussed at a Feb. 26 hearing that cast a negative light on E15.

The bill, which currently has five cosponsors, would require that the EPA enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences for a comprehensive assessment of the scientific and technical research of mid-level blends. The bill specifies that gasoline containing no ethanol and E10 should be compared to mid-level blends and that the assessment should include a short-term and long-term evaluation of the use of mid-level blends in nonroad and onroad vehicles, marine engines and related equipment.

In addition, the EPA’s ability to grant new fuel waivers would be waived until it submitted a report on the conclusions of the National Academy of Sciences to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The EPA would have 45 days to reach an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences and 30 days to submit the report after it received the assessment of E15.

In mid-February, Sensenbrenner introduced a bill seeking to block EPA’s ability to increase the yearly renewable fuel standard cellulosic biofuel requirements. He also previously unsuccessfully attempted to delay the introduction of E15 into the marketplace.

The ethanol industry has repeatedly pointed to the extensive testing E15 went through before the waiver was granted. “Spoiler alert: E15 is the most tested fuel, ever, and the auto industry failed to provide a single example of problems with drivability during the DOE’s testing process,” the Fuels America coalition said previously. “What’s more, renewable fuel has already been proven to save consumers money. Ethanol reduced gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon in 2011.” The group went on to point out the fuel is safe, clean and has the potential to help reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, leading to a more secure energy future. “It’s time to wake up to the reality that renewable fuel is about giving consumers a choice when it comes to fueling their cars, the group said. “And opposition to that choice is about oil company’s efforts to retain control over America’s fuel supply.”



9 Responses

  1. Ryan



    Jim, Goerge, and Scott, The facts speak louder than the accusations. "According to a study by the National Defense Council Foundation, America spends nearly $50 billion a year defending Persian Gulf oil, adding more than one dollar to the true cost of a gallon of gasoline. Total economic penalties of America’s oil dependence equal $297.2 billion to $304.9 billion annually. If reflected at the gasoline pump, these “hidden costs” would force the pump price of gasoline to$5.28 per gallon. A fill-up for the average vehiclewould cost well over $100." So before we accuse ethanol of being too subsidized, lets take away a $50 billion spend from our government that is a 'subsidy' for those oil companies. Ethanol was subsidized at the pump, but largely now ethanol prices are cheaper than gasoline, due to the market. Ethanol trades for around $2/gallon, adding this to gasoline at $3.50/gallon lowers the price of the fuel altogheter. Most of the ethanol subsidies were removed at the end of 2012 when VEETC expired. VEETC was a tax credit given to blenders for using ethanol. The subsidy didn't even go to ethanol plants, but to the oil companies, blenders, and sellers. The last comment, by Scott, is outdated data as well. New studies have shown that ethanol contains more BTU's per gallon than the cost of energy to required to produce that gallon of fuel. This includes all energy used including the farmers' gas for planting and harvesting, the energy to produce fertilizers, seed, and irrigate, transportation to the ethanol plant, production of the fuel, and transportation from the plants to the retail locations. Ethanol was once upon a time a net energy loss, but every year the industry become less wasteful, more efficient, and more profitable. From the ethanol RFA- "• The average dry mill today uses less than 26,000 BTUs of thermal energy to produce a gallon of ethanol, compared to the 77,000 BTUs of energy contained in the gallon." and "• Ethanol yields between 1.9 and 2.3 units of energy for every one unit of energy used in production, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research." Ethanol has also been proven to have minimal effect on your food prices. In typical corn based foods, the studies have shown that corn price has less than 5% of the total impact on price. For instance, in Corn Flakes, the cost of corn only attributes to approximatly 3% of the total cost. The rest is made up of production costs, transportation, packaging, labeling, and corporate costs. For example, General Mills had profits averaging $1.33 billion for the last 9 years. The highest of those profits $1.53 billion-$1.8 billion in the last 3 years. Isn't it odd that the cost of corn increases and decreases by season but but your cereal prices only go upward. And during this time of 'higher priced inputs' their profits went up too. The food industry is claiming the corn price is driving up food cost as a smoke and mirror act to take the focus off of thier increased profits. The addition of ethanol to the market decreases the transportation cost as well, thus supressing food prices that would be even higher with the increased cost of fuel. GM's reported income, last 9 years: DATE TOTAL NET INCOME 2012 1.57 Bil 2011 1.80 Bil 2010 1.53 Bil 2009 1.30 Bil 2008 1.29 Bil 2007 1.14 Bil 2006 1.09 Bil 2005 1.24 Bil 2004 1.06 Bil The economics behind ethanol make sense. It is the cheapest source of octane to add to gasoline, and the cheapest commercially made liquid fuel in the market. For every gallon of ethanol we reduce gas consuption by 1.2 gallons by increasing octane and reducing transportation required to get the fuels to market. It helps us lower oil imports, creates as many as 200,000 jobs in the US, and boosts local economies by millions of dollars a year. Studies done by the National Defense Council show that the money we spend on buying foreign oil sends $220 billion a year overseas. That money could instead be used to fund as many as 800,000 jobs in the US. Seems to me ethanol is not only an answer, but a great answer to our energy independence, job creation, national debt, and national security.

  2. Jim



    How much has our food costs gone up since 40% of corn goes to ethanol? I would that negative impact is much greater than $1.09 savings for gas.

  3. George



    Jim, I wonder if that $1.09 factors in the cost to taxpayers for the ethanol subsidies from the state & fed government? Here in IA 10% ethanol is 10 cents cheaper than regular, state subsidy.

  4. Scott



    If the ethanol production was not subsidized by the Govt. and paid for by the taxpayer, this discussion would not be taking place. It takes more than a gallon of fossil fuel to produce a gallon of ethanol which has less energy per gallon by a fair margin. Only the govt. could fund a scheme like this.

  5. M Dougherty



    Refiners are going to need all the D6 RINs credits they can get in 2013 to meet their RFS2 blending obligation. Therefore, if the auto manufactures are the main holdup because of potential engine problems, just let the RFA and the collective ethanol producers warranty all of the auto engines in the US. If E15 is that good, then they won't have any claims. It's that simple.

  6. Kurt



    It seems to me you guys need some facts about ethanol. First all ethanol is no longer subsidized and the subsidy's never went solely to the ethanol refiners it went to the refinery's that blended ethanol. How about we tell the government to stop the Big Oil Subsisdy's after all they are making record profits. Secondly E15 is solely voluntary you don't have to burn it in your car if you don't wish. E15 is the most tested motor fuel in history and in fact NASCAR has driven 3 million miles on E15 and it has performed very well under the harshest conditions. If you want to talk about mandate than lets break the 90% OIL mandate and let the Consumer chose between an Homegrown American Made Renewable Fuel or Foreign oil. I really like the the 40% corn consumption Ethanol in fact takes in 40% of the corn but after only the starch is taken from kernal of corn the remaining fats, fibers and protiens are made into a nutreint rich feed called Wet Distlliers grains which is fed back to livestock. So in reality the ethanol industry only uses 16% of the nations corn crop and which is 3% of the worlds crop. The vast majority of the costs of food in grocery stores, including Wal Mart, are the costs of energy for manufacturing, packaging, labor, and transportation. The impact of the raw commodity cost in food only accounts for 3 cents out of every grocery dollar.

  7. Joel



    I hate to burst the bubbles of the many uninformed bloggers, but there are no more government incentives/subsidies for oil companies to blend American ethanol. There's also no more tariffs on imported foreign ethanol into the US, neither have existed since the end of 2011; however this is unlike the continuing tariffs on American ethanol which leave our borders for Europe or Brazil due to the oil monopoly here controlling 90% of the US fuel supply in the States; again, unlike Brazil which regularly burns 20% to 25% ethanol in the same cars we drive, and do so without hesitation...amazing!

  8. jr



    Try doing an internet search on the rising cost of seafood or broccoli. Even the WSJ blames the rising cost of seafood on the Gulf Oil spill and increased shipping rates. Can't blame that on ethanol. Maybe those who actually know the facts about biofuels should request additional testing of beer made in Milwaukee (Sensenbrenner's district). Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9)a far right Republican and other representatives around the St Louis area have long supported ethanol and other biofuels. So: Boycott Milwaukee and Buy St. Louis.

  9. Chris C.



    The fact remains that all major auto and motorcycle manufacturers clearly state that using fuel with more than 10% ethanol is not recommended and will void your warranty. Ethanol produces less power per pound than gasoline and is more corrosive and harmful to fuel system parts. Right now, all major automotive and motorcycle organizations including AAA, SEMA and the AMA oppose using E-15 until further tests are done to insure that it will not cause pre-mature engine wear or breakdowns which could leave motorists stranded or at risk of being involved in an accident. I worked in the automotive industry for years and the EPA definitely overstepped its bounds by authorizing E-15 use without consulting with vehicle manufacturer's first.


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