US EPA invites public comment on E-15 ethanol blend

16 April 2009 19:51  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--Federal officials on Thursday called for public comment on a proposed increase in the ethanol mix in US gasolines, saying a decision will be made by 1 December.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that public comment on the requested boost to 15% ethanol from the current 10% biofuel blend cap will be accepted for 30 days.

The exact date of the comment period closing will be 30 days after the EPA notice is formally published in the Federal Register, which is likely within a few days.

Growth Energy, a bio-ethanol trade group, and 54 ethanol manufacturers filed a petition on 6 March with EPA seeking an increase in the ethanol blend cap.

The ethanol producers said the current 10% ethanol blend - known as E-10 - does not generate sufficient demand to absorb available ethanol production capacity and that an E-15 blend authorisation is necessary.

The petition is opposed by chemical, refining, environmental and other interest groups who argue that EPA cannot legally increase the ethanol blend cap without conducting a series of scientific tests as required under the Clean Air Act.

Proponents of the E-15 authorisation argue that sufficient scientific research has demonstrated that the higher ethanol blend would cause no harm to existing automobile engines or their performance and would not compromise the environment or public health.

US corn-based ethanol producers have been troubled by low prices and bankruptcies, and sector leaders have said that the requested blend cap increase is critical to viability of the domestic biofuels industry.

The agency said a decision on the E-15 petition will be issued on or before 1 December.

Details on the comment process and a date certain deadline can be obtained from a special EPA Web site.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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