EPA Set To Greenlight Use Of Ethanol 15 This Week

by William Teach | October 13, 2010 9:09 am

You’ll remember that I mentioned, back on September 21st[1], that the EPA was considering greenlight the use of 15% ethanol gasoline, and the confusion it would create. Looks like they do not care, they’re on a mission from Gaia[2]

The Obama administration plans to allow higher levels of ethanol for gasoline used by newer cars, a step that would benefit corn growers but which has been strongly opposed by auto makers, livestock ranchers, oil refiners and some public-health advocates.

As early as Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce it will allow ethanol levels in gasoline blends to be as high as 15% for vehicles made since 2007, up from 10% currently, according to two people familiar with the matter.

For cars made between 2001 and 2006, the agency will say it is awaiting the outcome of additional research and not ready to announce a decision.

So, exactly how will this work? Will there be just one or two pumps that have the E15 blend? Will people just have to know? Will there be someone out there directing people? What happens if you make a mistake? In states that do no allow you to pump your own gas, will the attendants have to ask what year your car is? Imagine the problems during rush hour, or on a Friday or Saturday afternoon during the summer in New Jersey, as everyone heads to the Shore (yes, Saturday too, because that is the turnover day for most weekly house rentals). Or will station managers/owners say something like “this is way too much of a pain. Just keep the E10 in all pumps”?

Anticipating such criticism, the EPA plans to also solicit comment on how gasoline pumps should be labeled, so as to avoid or reduce the potential that drivers will put the wrong fuel into their cars, the people familiar with the matter said.

How many of you look at the pump, other than to put your card in and pick the blend? Ranchers, the oil industry, auto makers, and, yes, even environmentalists oppose this project. What if the consumer makes a mistake? Will that leave the station liable for engine damage? Valero and Marathon Oil say they may not sell E15 even when approved.[3]

No such split of the market exists for the 10% blend currently dispensed by almost every U.S. gasoline retailer. About four of every five gallons of gasoline sold has the 10% ethanol blend. But if E15 is approved on a limited basis, gas stations must decide if they want to invest up to $25,000 for new tank and gasoline dispensing systems to accommodate the new fuel.

“I’m not going to put in an E15 pump even if they legalize it. It’s too expensive. I’ll just keep selling the 10% blend,” Roz Jalali, owner of a Conoco station in West Des Moines, Iowa, told the newspaper.

And then there are the problems with using more food as fuel. Corn is already up[4] in recent days. If you use more corn as fuel the price of corn will go up further, and leave less corn for food and feed. Then the price of other foods, such as beef, pork, and chicken increase.

Interestingly, one of the big groups behind the push for E15 is Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group led by Wesley Clark. They stand to make some serious cash if approved.

BTW, know where that cartoon came from? Treehugger[5], which is not thrilled with Ethanol.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove[6]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[7]. Re-Change 2010[8]!

  1. September 21st: http://www.thepiratescove.us/2010/09/21/epa-may-greenlight-e15-biofuel-create-confusion/
  2. they’re on a mission from Gaia: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703440004575548883403355828.html
  3. they may not sell E15 even when approved.: http://www.cspnet.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=03EEA497D14D4672A4AFB5694972E0F9&AudID=CBA745B91AFB44FA923476ACBBD040A5
  4. already up: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/10/12/2306623/rising-corn-prices-also-affect.html
  5. Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/yet_another_rea_1.php
  6. Pirate’s Cove: http://www.thepiratescove.us/
  7. @WilliamTeach: http://twitter.com/WilliamTeach
  8. Re-Change 2010: http://www.cafepress.com/wteach1

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