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EPA Ethanol Expansion Hardens a Divide

The divide between pro- and anti-ethanol forces is widening now that EPA has approved E15 gas for 2001-06 cars, and it's spilling over to Capitol Hill

By Elizabeth McGowan

Jan 27, 2011

Bill Becker, executive director of the , said every city would suffer from increased air pollution because "higher levels of ethanol in motor vehicle fuel mean higher emissions of nitrogen oxides, an important contributor to ground-level ozone, and other harmful air pollutants."

Sheila Karpf, legislative and policy analyst with the accused the Obama administration of voiding "car warranties for millions of Americans at the behest of the corn and ethanol lobby."

"The confusion at the pump will be unimaginable, as will the costly burden placed on taxpayers as cars and small engines not made to burn corn ethanol break down after misfueling," continued Karpf. "Taxpayers have invested billions in a fuel that does little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

When announcing its E15 waiver in October, EPA officials did propose requiring labels on pumps so consumers could tell the difference between one gasoline blend and another.

However, the is still concerned that the testing of the E15 blend isn't adequate.

"We believe more research is needed to determine how increased ethanol levels could affect vehicles that were designed and warranted for E10," alliance spokespeople wrote in .

RFA Stands by Ethanol Benefits

Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the , told SolveClimate News that the opposition to ethanol is "manufactured angst."

Compared to gasoline, he said, ethanol nearly halves carbon emissions, replaces gasoline refined from more than 450 million barrels of oil, and provides octane that helps engines run smoother.

"Many of the complaints are from industries who desperately want to maintain the status quo, a nation addicted to imported oil," Hartwig said, adding that environmental concerns about ethanol stem from unproven theories. "Ethanol is creating jobs that cannot be outsourced to Arabian oil fields or to solar film plants in Asia."

With an estimated 62 percent of the nation's vehicles now eligible to run on the E15 blend, RFA will continue its push to legislatively address labeling issues and "misfueling" concerns at gas stations.

Ethanol Industry Push for E15

When Congress amended the by passing the , it upped the renewable fuels standard by requiring that 36 billion gallons of biofuels be produced by 2022.

This year, the United States will be required to blend 13.95 billion gallons of biofuels with conventional transportation fuels, according to EPA figures.

However, the ethanol industry has repeatedly stated that such numbers are unachievable unless transportation fuel mixes are higher than 10 percent ethanol — established by EPA in 1979.


I never thoght I'd find myself in agreement with Sen. Inhofe on anything related to the environment and energy.  Corn based ethanol only seems to have one benefit, less dependence on foreign oil.

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