EPA in October announced that E15 was safe to use in engines in model year 2007 and newer cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
That decision — strongly supported by ethanol advocates — has been challenged in court by food, farm and oil industry groups, charging that the decision violated the Clean Air Act. Additional groups — including petroleum refiners — may challenge that decision as well.
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the reason for the delay in EPA's decision is because of the need to continue testing “one particular car that hadn’t been properly maintained and serviced.” That vehicle, he said, failed testing on all fuels, including conventional gasoline that did not include any ethanol. “The problem was with the testing process, not the fuel,” Buis said. Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers petitioned EPA in March 2009 to start testing E15 in vehicle engines.
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said that “while the delay is disappointing, it is understandable.” He added in a statement that the ethanol industry group is “encouraged by EPA’s commitment to accurate testing for 2001-2006 cars and pickup trucks, particularly given the failures are unrelated to the fuel being tested.”
EPA has indefinitely delayed a decision on whether E15 is safe to use in vehicles model year 2000 and older, citing insufficient data and potential air quality problems.
This story was updated at 1:10 p.m. and 1:25 p.m.