Wanting to ensure that it has “all necessary science to make the right decision,” EPA expects to make a final decision next year on whether to increase the allowable ethanol content in gasoline to 15 percent.
In a letter to Growth Energy (which submitted a waiver requesting the allowance of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline or E15 last March) yesterday, EPA stated that it is continuing to evaluate component durability “when E15 is used over many thousands of miles.” The DOE is currently testing 19 vehicles to examine the long-term emissions impacts of higher ethanol blends on newer motor vehicles. At present, data are available on just two vehicles. But, EPA told Growth Energy that testing is expected to be completed on the other 12 vehicles by the end of May 2010.
EPA also wrote Growth Energy that it expects to have a significant amount of data from this study by mid-June and that, “if test results remain supportive and provide the necessary basis, we would be in a position to approve E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles in the mid-year timeframe.”
If the testing indicates potential problems, EPA may need to delay its decision until all data are in.
Growth Energy was encouraged by the letter, stating that “EPA has taken a positive step towards higher blends of clean, green and homegrown ethanol.” Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy, said, “We are confident the ongoing tests will further confirm the data we submitted in the Growth Energy Green Jobs Waiver and silence those critics, allowing more American-produced energy to enter the market.”
The Renewable Fuels Association, however, is concerned that the postponement of a decision “will chill investment in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time in their development and commercialization.”