US engine manufacturers challenge EPA's 15% ethanol blend

20 December 2010 16:03  [Source: ICIS news]

E-15 blends may soon be allowed at gasoline pumpsHOUSTON (ICIS)--A coalition of US engine manufacturers and others on Monday filed a legal challenge to the 15% ethanol fuel blend, arguing that further testing needs to be done.

The newly-formed Engine Products Group (EPG), which comprises several different trade groups for automobile, marine and power equipment manufacturers, requested judicial review over whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waiver for E-15 fuels violated the US Clean Air Act.

“[We] regret having to pursue litigation on this matter, but it is clear that EPA has not fulfilled its statutory obligations to ensure the safe introduction of E-15,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

Ethanol industry advocates had warned that an E-15 blend approval was critical to the survival of the US biofuels industry.

The elevated fuel mandate is widely opposed, however, by US refiners and a broad coalition of other manufacturers and environmental groups, who argue that many automotive and off-road vehicle and equipment engines can not safely use the higher ethanol blend and that an E-15 mandate would not benefit the environment.

The partial waiver gave immediate approval for E-15 use by automobiles manufactured in 2007 and later, and the agency said it could expand the ruling to include cars made in 2001 through 2006.

The previous ethanol blend limit was 10% (E-10).

The EPG said that E-15 could adversely affect engines in non-road products and later model year vehicles, cause emission failures and increase air pollution as a result of misfueling.

In addition, the group said the testing upon which EPA made its decision was “put in the administrative record too late to permit meaningful comment or scrutiny from concerned groups and stakeholders”.

“Our concern is that EPA prematurely granted the partial waiver before critical studies on the effects of E-15 use were completed. We want to be sure that any new fuel will not increase air pollution, harm engines or endanger consumer safety,” said Michael Stanton, chief executive with the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM).

In early November, US energy sector officials - including the American Petroleum Institute (API) - joined with food, livestock and agriculture interests in filing a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the authorisation for E-15 blends.

The groups said the agency’s ruling lacked statutory authority and scientific justification.

US refiners have warned that an E-15 authorisation could force shutdowns of some domestic gasoline refineries.

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By: Ben DuBose
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