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EPA Expects to Make a Final Decision on Increasing Ethanol Blend Limit in Mid-2010 at the Earliest; Timing Depends on Further Testing and Results

In March 2009, Growth Energy, a new advocacy group promoting ethanol and biofuels, submitted a request for a “green jobs” waiver allowing an increase in the ethanol blend limit from 10% (E10) up to 15% (E15) to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The waiver did not seek to mandate use of E15, but to remove the barrier to its optional use. (Earlier post.) Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was required to respond to the waiver request by 1 December 2009.

Today (1 December), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to the waiver request, announcing that—depending upon the pace of testing and associated results—it could make a final determination in mid-2010 regarding whether to increase the allowable ethanol content in fuel.

Of course, if the data highlight potential problems, then the decision may need to be delayed until all testing is received and reviewed.

—Letter from Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator EPA

In a letter sent to Growth Energy, the agency said that while not all tests have been completed, the results of two tests indicate that engines in newer cars likely can handle an ethanol blend higher than the current 10% limit. The agency will decide whether to raise the blending limit when more testing data is available. EPA also announced that it has begun the process to craft the labeling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.

EPA said that it has been evaluating the group’s request and has received a broad range of public comments as part of the administrative rulemaking process. EPA and the Department of Energy also undertook a number of studies to determine whether cars could handle higher ethanol blends. Testing has been proceeding as quickly as possible given the available testing facilities, according to the agency.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers praised the postponement of the decision on the waiver, saying that automakers want government testing to prove that increasing the allowable ethanol blend limit will not harm vehicle emissions, performance, and durability.

Comments

sulleny

EPA oughtta pray they don't get put under the investigative spotlight coming to all "climate change" complicit Agencies. They are ALL going to be pulled apart to see who and how they've been stealing from the public.

If you work for one of these outfits - get your resume ready. House cleaning has begun.

SJC

It would depend the cars being able to use E15 without problems. It also depends on the nation supplying E15 with corn ethanol, which is not the best way to do it.

Treehugger

I am pretty sure the politics will oblige them to go for the increase which would be the stupidest thing to do. Mixing ethanol with gasoline is a dead end. If we want to develop biofuel they have to be either mixable with gasoline or we have to make the cars bi-fuel. But trying to mix fuel that are not compatible is not the right approach period.

ai_vin

The best why to get the most out of limited supplies of ethanol is; http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/10/startup_working.html

SJC

Wet ethanol injection would be cheaper, but I would like to see all cars sold FFVs and get on with cellulose E85. If they kept it at E10 and had more availability of E85, we would achieve the same goal of reducing oil imports. There are 5 million FFVs now, with all FFVs by 2012, we would have more than 50 million by 2017.

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

@ SJC:

I live in Minnesota where E85 is commonly available, and E10 has been mandated for several years. I typically splash blend E10 (in the gas tank) with a gallon or two of E85 to produce a E20-E25 fuel. This runs nicely in my 1991 Chrysler New Yorker (3.3 liter OHV V6) with no apparent lack of performance. My fuel economy is basically unchanged, and my engine runs smoothly and sweetly. Plus, in the winter (~6 months in Duluth), there is no need to add fuel antifreeze.

My point is this: If my car runs fine on E25, your probably will too.

Also, Minnesota will begin to mandate E20 beginning in 2013, so expect the EPA to allow such blends nationally by that time.

SJC

It costs only a few hundred dollars per car for the auto industry to make all cars sold FFVs. We could say it works in my car but not yours, but that is rolling the dice. If every new car sold after 2012 was FFV, the cost would be small and the benefits many. Now you have over 50 million cars that can run alternative fuels and E85 would be available in many cities in all 50 states. We know E10 works for most cars made in the last 30 years, but we do not know about higher concentrations. Why take the risk? Make E85 available for the 5 million FFVs already on the road in all states and all cities, then you are ready for the 50 million new FFVs as they roll off the line.

Bob Carpenter

Wow the AG/ethanol lobby is at it again! They already got a defacto mandate to use ethanol in RFG, an exemption from the 53 cents/gallon federal excise tax for ethanol motor fuel and secured a 50 cents/gallon import tax on cheap Brazilian ethanol imports. In the business world it doesn't get much better than this. Now they want even more. I say let the free market determine winners and losers.

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