Rep. Burgess looking to slow down EPA's ethanol decision

Burgess wrote last week to the Department of Energy (DOE) about the E15 decision, which followed one last year to allow E15 for use in cars built in 2007 or later. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Burgess said EPA has told members in a closed briefing that the agency did not do any of its own testing on the effect of E15 on engines, and that it relied on DOE testing.

The letter asked Chu for the results of its testing, and asked for information about who conducted the tests.

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Monday, Burgess said he was "wholly dissatisfied" with the EPA's briefing last fall on the E15 decision, and chastised EPA for not conducting its own tests.

"Does the EPA not employ it's own scientists and experts?" he asked today. "Is it the EPA's position that it is incapable of doing its own research?"

Burgess is expected to introduce legislation on Wednesday, and his staff says it will be similar to Section 3 of last year's H.R. 6228. That bill prohibited ethanol blends beyond E10, and would have required a study about the effects of higher ethanol blends on various engines.

Burgess noted today that the E10 blend commonly used in the U.S. is already thought to have played a part in commodity price increases. The price pressure ethanol puts on corn has many agriculture groups opposed to any higher ethanol-gasoline blends above E10.

On the other side of the issue, ethanol producers have been putting increasing pressure on policymakers to allow an E15 blend, since the U.S. is close to the point of overcapacity for ethanol. These producers have called E10 a "blend wall" that prevents further expansion of the industry.

Updated at 3:05 p.m.