US EPA delays ethanol fuel mix ruling until mid-2010

01 December 2009 15:51  [Source: ICIS news]

EPA delays E15 rulingHOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Tuesday it expects to delay its final determination until mid-2010 on whether to raise the blend cap for ethanol above its current 10% level, claiming that not all testing has been completed.

The EPA’s response was sent to Growth Energy, a biofuels industry association that in March requested a waiver to allow for the use of up to 15% of ethanol in gasoline.

The delay drew immediate fire from ethanol industry proponents, who were counting on an immediate decision. Under the US Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to respond to the request by 1 December.

Advocates for the struggling US corn ethanol industry argue that the current blend of 10% ethanol with 90% standard gasoline, known as E-10, does not provide enough market consumption to absorb the country’s existing ethanol production.

“This delay threatens to paralyse the continued evolution of America’s ethanol industry,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) chief executive Bob Dinneen said. “As EPA itself indicated, the scientific data to date has demonstrated no ill-effects of increased ethanol use in any vehicle currently on the road.”

“Moreover, this delay will chill investment in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time in their development and commercialisation,” he added.

Dinneen urged the EPA to immediately approve intermediate ethanol blends, such as E-12, as good faith gesture from the Obama administration, underscoring the commitment it has pledged to biofuels.

“Allowing for a 20 percent increase in ethanol’s potential share of the market would provide some breathing room for the industry while EPA finishes its testing on E-15,” he said.

The EPA said the results of two tests taken thus far indicate that engines in newer cars likely can handle an ethanol blend higher than the current 10% limit.

The EPA also announced that it had begun the process of crafting the labelling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.

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By: Ben DuBose
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