House passes amendment preventing funds to be spent on E15 implementation
On Saturday, February 19, the House passed an amendment to prevent the EPA from spending any federal funds on the E15 waivers granted over the past year. Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) said, “My amendment ensures consumer safety, plain and simple. The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address 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– leading to consumer confusion at the pump and possible engine failure in the cars they drive. These decisions can also negatively impact marine and other non-road engines such as boats, lawn mowers. My amendment put the brakes on E15 for the rest of the fiscal year, giving Congress time to address these questions and ensure consumer safety at the pump.”
Congress also passed an amendment introduced by Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) which would prevent spending federal funds for the rest of the fiscal year on construction of blender pumps or ethanol storage facilities.
“In a rush to make budget cuts, the House adopted an amendment that effectively overturns EPA’s previous decision to allow for increased use of renewable, homegrown biofuels – a policy decision that was based on sound science,” said 25x’25 Alliance Co-Chair Read Smith.
“This is a wrong-headed vote because any concerns about any impact of higher ethanol blends have been answered,” said Smith, also a former president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. “The vote also negatively impacts the nation’s economy, our balance of payments and public health by further increasing our dependence on oil and exposure to toxic emissions associated with gasoline production and use.”
Retired Vice Admiral Denny McGinn, another 25x'25 Steering Committee member and a former commander of the Navy's Third Fleet, said the recent House vote jeopardizes the nation’s national security. “This move would greatly reduce the availability of a viable domestic supply of transportation fuels and continue to feed our national addiction to foreign oil. In a nation rightly concerned about the U.S. economy and jobs, we need to start reducing the outflow of more than $1 billion petrodollars each day to nations and regimes overseas, many hostile to the United States,” McGinn said.
“Fortunately, the Senate will have the opportunity to address this irrational decision when they take up their version of a continuing resolution after the President’s Day recess,” said Smith. “Our strongest hope is that the recess will give stakeholders the chance to inform lawmakers of the need for an expanded biofuel supply in the interests of public health and national security, and that lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill will work in a bipartisan manner to reverse this disastrous course of increased oil dependence.”
The Renewable Fuels Association’s President and CEO Bob Dinneen, said, “If the chaos in the Middle East teaches us anything, it should be that America must forcefully begin down the path of energy self-reliance. Increasing the use of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol is the first, and arguably, the easiest step we can take.”
“The House has denied consumers choice in the type of fuel they use,” Dinneen said. “Instead, they have chosen to continue giving oil companies a virtual monopoly over the fueling system. Our dependence on imported oil is neither safe nor sustainable. As the world’s largest oil companies tell us they can’t find new sources of oil, this House measure would seek to relegate future generations to a preventable future of oil dependence.”
In contrast, Charles Drevna, president, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, applauded the House vote. “Every American who owns a car, light-duty truck, motorcycle, snowmobile or outdoor power equipment will benefit by the House vote that has the effect of blocking the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E15. House members in both parties have served the best interests of the American people on this important consumer protection issue, and we urge the Senate to join them.”
Drevna stated that EPA’s approval of the sale of E15 for late-model vehicles was “unwise and premature.” He said that thorough and objective scientific testing to establish whether E15 will damage gasoline-powered engines has not been completed.
But, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, the organization which filed the E15 waiver, said that “EPA’s consideration of E15 was based on a more exhaustive study and collection of data than any of the 11 previously approved petitions. No other fuel mix has been tested more,” he said.
The Senate is currently working on its own version of a Continuing Resolution (CR). President Obama indicated that he would veto the House version of the CR if it reaches his desk.