Senators mount opposition to EPA's decision to allow higher ethanol blends

Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Wednesday asking whether the agency’s decision to allow E15 blends in some vehicles will affect the availability of pure gasoline.

“Limited supply of pure gasoline in Maine has resulted in the use of ethanol, which has caused damage to small engines and threatens to undermine recreational activities including snowmobiling, boating, and general aviation,” Snowe said in a statement Thursday.

The senators requested that EPA conduct an analysis of the effect of the increased use of ethanol on the availability of gasoline.

In a separate letter Thursday, Snow, Inhofe and several other senators – including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — laid out their opposition to the EPA’s E15 decision and outlined its potential “unintended consequences.”

The senators point to the potential for misfueling, in which consumers put E15 in engines that are not approved to handle the fuel. They also warn of ethanol’s “corrosive properties” and its “tendency to clog motors not designed to accommodate biofuels.”

A number of industry groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, have asked a federal court to overturn EPA's ethanol decision.