The decision announced today regarding the ethanol blend in our nation’s fuel supply unnecessarily segments the market, but will at least begin the cumbersome process of moving higher blends to the marketplace.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of E15, a fifteen percent blend of ethanol and conventional fuel, comes more than 18 months after a waiver request was filed in March of 2009 to remove the Agency’s arbitrary 10 percent blend limit. Today’s announcement approving E15 for only a small percentage of the U.S. vehicle fleet brings with it the potential of consumer misunderstandings, retailer skittishness, and confusion from those that hoped EPA would approve higher blends for all vehicles.
“EPA’s decision certainly isn’t the best case scenario,” said Tim Lenz, President of the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA). “EPA should make decisions such as this using sound science and good common sense. We have always been adamant that moving to higher blends should work for everyone including petroleum marketers, automobile manufacturers, and obviously for consumers."
Lenz, a family corn farmer from Strasburg added, “We know that getting more ethanol into our fuel supply is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for energy security. Logistically, approving higher blends for cars 2007 and newer sets up such a limited market that there won’t be much incentive for gasoline retailers to offer E15.”
“But the fact is Administrator Jackson has made up her mind. Where we go from here is what should be focused on now.”
“The bright spot is that this decision by EPA does start the ball rolling on the long list of paperwork processes that have to happen to get any new fuel to market. No decision from EPA would have meant no progress on that front. For this, we’re grateful,” Lenz explained.
ICGA will continue to point to a recently released research study funded in part by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board that supports the use of E15 in all vehicles 1994 and newer. The study, undertaken by internationally recognized fuel systems designer Ricardo, Inc., indicated that E15 performed substantially similar to E10 in a representative sample of fuel systems, covering more than 85% of all vehicles currently on the road.