May 21, 2012  |  Today's News

Last week, the American Petroleum Institute released a “junk science” report that caught the attention of a lot of people. It wasn’t anything new. They were singing the same old song about the evils of ethanol, regardless of the fact that their “science” was completely bogus. The report claims that the EPA’s approval of E-15 as a fuel choice for flex-fuel vehicles and vehicles model year 2001 and newer did not consider all the evidence. We at IL Corn know that EPA took quite a long time considering the evidence and tested engines on more than 6 million miles to prove that E-15 is just fine.

Here’s the argument: “EPA’s decision was based largely on a DOE study of the effects of E15 on durability of catalytic converters, the primary pollution control system in a vehicle. EPA did not undertake or wait to consider the results of this engine durability test, or for other E15 related research still underway." *this is totally wrong, by the way*

So if you hear anything more about this report, you’ll want to remember these points to counter the (baseless) claims.

It is true that the EPA waiver decisions were based primarily on the Department of Energy testing, but it is not accurate at all to suggest that EPA essentially ignored other ongoing testing efforts, including the CRC project. EPA and DOE both were well aware of the CRC testing program and its timeline. In fact, DOE was involved in the early discussions establishing the CRC project. However, EPA decided to move forward with the partial waivers without waiting for the completion of the CRC project for two primary reasons:

1.       EPA was confident in the scientific robustness, completeness and accuracy of the DOE testing data. Further, the DOE work passed a rigorous peer-review process. Thus, EPA didn’t see the need to delay the waivers for the completion of the CRC study, which has not been peer reviewed.

2.       EPA and DOE had significant concerns about the methodology used for the CRC testing program. These concerns led DOE, EPA and other stakeholders to question whether the CRC testing results would be scientifically defensible and/or meaningful for the purposes of rulemaking. Therefore, EPA decided not to delay issuance of the waivers for the completion of a study based on questionable methods. Some of DOE’s concerns about the CRC methodology are outlined in a very recent release on the DOE web site: http://energy.gov/articles/getting-it-right-accurate-testing-and-assessments-critical-deploying-next-generation-auto

Further, it must be pointed out that DOE’s testing was not just limited to catalyst durability. Among other issues, the agency and its sub-contractors also exhaustively studied the compatibility of common engine, fuel system, and emissions system components with E15 and other mid-level blends.