Ethanol is being blended into all of the gasoline across the country because of a new federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) promulgated by a new federal law, the Energy Independence and Security of 2007 (EISA 2007). If you take the time to read this 310 page act, you will notice something peculiar. The portion that governs the RFS is only a minor part of the act, Sections 201 - 248, and most of these sections deal with E85 (85% ethanol / 15% gasoline), flex-fuel cars (which are the only cars that can use E85) and bio-diesel. No ethanol blending ratios are required by the act and it is NOT a mandatory E10 law. The act stipulates that the RFS is to be implemented by the EPA.
So why is ethanol showing up in all grades of gasoline everywhere as E10 which is 10% ethanol / 90% gasoline? To understand the new reality of ethanol blending in the US, click here.
A State Legislator Finally Gets It.
Senator Michael Watson in Mississippi has introduced a bill, SB-2137, that would "... REQUIRE RETAIL DEALERS AND DISTRIBUTORS OF GASOLINE TO OFFER FOR SALE OR USE NONETHANOL-BLENDED UNLEADED PREMIUM GRADE GASOLINE ...". I urge our friends in Mississippi to support Senator Watson's bill and urge other states to introduce similar legislation. I have sent a link to this bill to my representatives here in Oregon.
The EPA has been petitioned to raise the blending limit of 10% ethanol for non Flex-Fuel cars to 15% by a coalition of ethanol lobbies because of the unintended consequences of the federal RFS mandate, EISA 2007 which was supposed to be an E85 corporate welfare law. Since E85 is going nowhere, the ethanol industry must now find a place to put all of the ethanol that is hard coded into EISA 2007. Instead of facing the fact that the law is grossly defective, they want to force you to take more ethanol in your gasoline by raising the blending limit to 15%.
The total number of comments on the E15 waiver was about 4730, which can be found by sifting through here.
As you can see from the EPA status web page, the E15 waiver is still pretty much D.O.A. because E15 is not "registered" with the EPA. In addition, according to the E15 waiver comment by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association the EPA does not have the legal authority to grant a partial waiver, it can only grant a waiver for all cars or deny the waiver. Their comment says, "EPA raises in the Waiver Notice the possibility of conditionally approving the use of E15 or lesser mid-level blends only for a limited subset of vehicles. 74 Fed. Reg. 18,230. If EPA were to develop such a bifurcated fuels program pursuant to a partial E15 waiver, the Agency would be at risk for a CAA section 307 judicial challenge alleging that the Agencys interpretation of section 211(f)(4) is unreasonable and exceeds the Agencys authority." As a result there have been a number of lawsuits against the EPA over the waiver, here, here and here. Another irony is that it took until June, 2011 to approve the E15 pump label, which is mandatory, and now there is already a lawsuit against the label, here.
Since the EPA E15 waiver is permissive, that is it isn't a mandatory E15 law, nobody has to make E15 and the gasoline producers were pretty much unanimous in their E15 waiver comments that they weren't going to make a product with such high liability for damage without the government passing liability legislation holding them and their dealers harmless. In addition there are no new non flex-fuel cars built from 2007 until today that have warranty coverage for E15, so who is going to pump a product into their gas tank that will void their warranty and cut their mileage.
Every mandatory E10 state has exemptions to their blending law, because there are a number of piston engine applications that should not, and some that cannot, use ethanol blended gasoline. Unfortunately the exemptions are not uniform. They vary from only one exemption in Washington, aircraft, to a universal exemption of premium unleaded in Missouri. All states exempt aircraft usage, but most states like Oregon and Washington make it almost impossible to get unblended gasoline. Oregon is the only state that allows for unblended regular and premium gasoline for the exemptions, and then makes it almost impossible to get any unblended gasoline. All other mandatory ethanol states just allow clear premium unleaded gasoline for the exempted classes.
The following piston engine applications should not use ethanol blended gasoline:
If ethanol is the holy grail of clean air and energy independence why does it require government mandate with corporate welfare payments? What is it about ethanol that it can't compete in a free market. For the past 20 years the ethanol industry has gotten corporate welfare from state and federal subsidies and tax credits and it is still not a profitable business without your tax dollars.
By the end of 2012 the unintended consequences of EISA 2007 will take every drop of gasoline in the country E10 causing serious economic damage to the marine and aviation industry and endangering public safety users who rely on portable tools. Your only option is to contact your state legislators and tell them how E10 is affecting you and ask them to pass legislation to prohibit the blending of ethanol into premium unleaded gasoline intended for sale anywhere in your state.
If you need information with references to frame arguments against ethanol blending please look at the Talking Points section of this site.
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