Congress seeks to temporarily bar higher ethanol fuel blends

The U.S. Congress is taking aim at ethanol blended fuels, passing a measure this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from spending any federal funds on waivers granted over the past year to allow the sale of E15 – a fuel blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline

The U.S. Congress is taking aim at ethanol blended fuels, passing a measure this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from spending any federal funds on waivers granted over the past year to allow the sale of E15 – a fuel blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline.

This measure, passed as part of a full year continuing appropriations act, is referred to as the “Sullivan Amendment” after its author, Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK).

“My amendment ensures consumer safety, plain and simple,” Sullivan said in a press statement. “The EPA has completely ignored … important safety issues raised by the 50% increase in the ethanol mandate issued over the past year. Putting E15 into our general fuel supply could adversely impact up to 60% of cars on the road today.”

Sullivan’s amendment is in response to the EPA’s decision Jan. 21 this year to waive a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol for model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks; a rule that applied to fuel that contains up to 15%.

Last year in October, the agency approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks and also stressed that no waiver is being granted for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines because current testing data do not support such a waiver

Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), applauded Congress’ legislative move to table the EPA’s E15 waiver.

“EPA's approval of the sale of E15 for late-model cars and light-duty trucks was unwise and premature, because thorough and objective scientific testing to establish whether E15 will damage gasoline-powered engines has not been completed,” he stressed in a press release. “In addition, EPA approval of E15 was unlawful because it did not cover all gasoline-powered engines. It could have led to mis-fueling that could have cost Americans millions of dollars in engine repair bills.”

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