Ethanol backers and critics find fault with EPA E-15 decision

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) said it was a “long overdue but welcome decision.” She said “equally critical” is her expectation that EPA later this year will approve E-15 for model years 2001 through 2006.
 
Herseth Sandlin and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) led a bipartisan coalition of House members in pushing for the approval of a higher ethanol blend. EPA will not make a decision on model years 2001 through 2006 until Energy Department testing is completed in November and may not do further testing at all on vehicles model year 2000 or older.
 
Another leading ethanol advocate in Congress — Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) —  added that he will “remain hopeful” that the Obama administration will finish testing soon and announce a decision on model years 2001 through 2006 “as well as reconsider its unfortunate decision to deny the waiver for vehicles older than 2000.”
 
Critics and skeptics of increasing the ethanol blend in gasoline weighed in as well.
 
The National Automobile Dealers Association issued a statement citing concern about the “backward compatibility” of the new E-15 blend, or “the degree to which E-15 might damage older cars and trucks when it is mistakenly pumped into them.”
 
“The main issue for dealers and their service departments is the possibility of misdiagnosis and repair of vehicles resulting from the use of the wrong fuel,” the group added in its statement.
 
“The Environmental Protection Agency today abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation’s public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency,” said Gregory Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. “EPA is asking the American people to pump first and ask questions later, and to become guinea pigs in a giant science experiment that involves their vehicles, their gasoline-powered equipment, and their safety.”
 
“The EPA’s decision is premature and irresponsible,” Friends of the Earth’s Kate McMahon said. “While today’s ruling limits E15 to use in newer engines for the time being, the agency has yet to conclude comprehensive scientific testing on the long-term engine safety and pollution impacts of increased ethanol in gasoline — period.”