The debate over E15 rages on. This week in a hearing held by the Energy & Environment Subcommittee, representatives from Congress, the American Petroleum Institute, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, the National Chicken Council and other organizations argued that EPA’s decision to permit the use of E15 could be extremely costly to consumers.
These representatives criticized the scientific and technical evaluations used by the EPA in making the decision, reported the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute said, “EPA improperly used data from the DOE Catalyst Durability program to draw conclusions about E15 related to certain effects for which the DOE Catalyst Durability program clearly was not designed to evaluate.”
But Margo Oge, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said EPA’s decision came after only “extensive and strong” analysis.
Strangely, no representative from the ethanol industry was invited to testify at the hearing. Therefore, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sent a letter to Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), chairman of the subcommittee, and Bran Miller (D-NC), ranking member on the subcommittee, to make sure the industry’s voice was heard.
“We believe EPA’s decision is sound, based on the most robust test program ever conducted by the federal government . . . and finalized only after a lengthy public rulemaking process in which the auto industry provided no data demonstrating a single emissions, materials compatibility or driveability problem associated with the use of E15,” the RFA wrote.
On July 5, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) released responses from U.S. automakers regarding the effect of E15 on vehicle engines. Here are highlights from these responses:
Chrysler: “We are not confident that our vehicles will not be damaged from the use of E15.¼ The warranty information provided to our customers specifically notes that use of the blends beyond E10 will void the warranty.”
Ford: “Ford does not support the introduction of E15 into the marketplace for the legacy fleet.¼Fuel not approved in the owner’s manual is considered misfueling and any damage resulting from misfueling is not covered by the warranty.”
Mercedes-Benz: “Any ethanol blend above E10, including E15, will harm emission control systems in Mercedes-Benz engines, leading to significant problems.”
Honda: “Vehicle engines were not designed or built to accommodate the higher concentrations of ethanol.¼There appears to be the potential for engine failure.”
Mazda: The record fails to demonstrate that motor vehicles would not be damaged and result in failures when run on E15.”
Toyota: “Toyota cannot recommend the use of fuel with greater than E10 for Toyota vehicles currently on the road.¼Our policy remains that we will not provide warranty coverage for issues arising from the misuse of fuels that exceed specified limits.”
Nissan: “We are not at all confident that there will not be damage to MY 2001 and later vehicles that are fueled with E15. In our view the record fails to demonstrate that motor vehicles . . . would not be damaged and result in failures when run on E15.”
Volkswagen: “Volkswagen agrees that the EPA did not conduct an adequate test program when E15 was considered and then approved for use in conventional vehicles.¼Our current warranty will not cover problems stemming from the use of E15.”
Volvo: “The risks related to emissions are greater than the benefits in terms of CO2 when using low-blend E15 for variants that are designed to E10.”
BMW: “BMW Group engines and fuel supply systems can be damaged by misfueling with E15.¼Damage appears in the form of very rapid corrosion of fuel pump parts, rapid formation of sludge in the oil pan, plugged filters, and other damage that is very costly to the vehicle owner.”
Hyundai: “The EPA tests failed to conclusively show that the vehicles will not be subject to damage or increased wear.”
Kia: EPA testing failed to determine that vehicles will not be subject to damage or increased wear.”
Complete reports from the car makers are available at sensenbrenner.house.gov. Car makers, however, have not responded with their own or other third-party information on this issue.