US oil group API claims E15 bad for millions of vehicles

16 May 2012 19:02  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The use of gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend (E15) could harm vehicle engines, potentially affecting millions of US cars and light trucks, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Wednesday, citing new testing done by an automotive and oil research group.

The API, which represents US oil and gas companies, claimed that engine testing by the non-profit Coordinating Research Council (CRC) is evidence that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has moved too quickly in authorising the sale of E15.

“EPA’s decisions in 2010 and 2011 approving E15 ethanol-gasoline blends for most American vehicles were premature and irresponsible," said API president and chief executive Jack Gerard.

Not all vehicles in the CRC testing showed engine damage, but the engine types that did show problems are found in millions of cars and light duty trucks now on US roads, Gerard said.

The findings by the CRC, which is funded by automobile and oil companies, were unveiled on Wednesday during a conference call held by API and two automobile industry groups.

E15 could harm around 5m US vehicles, one official said during the call, adding that the CRC estimate was conservative.

A US ethanol group has disputed the findings, saying government tests have showed that higher blends of ethanol are safe for US vehicles.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which represents a large share of the US ethanol industry, further said that some of the vehicles used in the CRC research also failed tests done with gasoline without ethanol.

The RFA moreover charged that some form of "aggressive ethanol", which it described as ethanol laced with additives such as acids and salts, was used in the CRC study, a claim that was promptly rejected by one of the groups supporting the study.

The CRC used regular ethanol as it is being sold at US service stations, the group said.

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By: William Lemos
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