EPA Delay Threatens Biofuels Evolution

The U.S. EPA has postponed its decision whether to allow for the blending of up to 15 percent ethanol in conventional gasoline. Increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline is critical to both ensuring that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is a successful policy and that there is a market for advanced biofuel technologies.

“This delay threatens to paralyze the continued evolution of America’s ethanol industry," says Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. "As EPA itself indicated, the scientific data to date has demonstrated no ill-effects of increased ethanol use in any vehicle currently on the road. Moreover, this delay will chill investment in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time in their development and commercialization.

“In order to avoid paralysis by analysis, EPA should immediately approve intermediate ethanol blends, such as E12. Allowing for a 20 percent increase in ethanol’s potential share of the market would provide some breathing room for the industry while EPA finishes its testing on E15. Additionally, it would represent a good faith gesture that underscores the commitment President Obama has pledged to biofuels.”

Beyond the delay, another worrisome development is EPA’s apparent decision to limit the scope of its waiver research to vehicles model year 2001 and newer. The data to date has shown no ill-effects of increased ethanol use in any vehicle, regardless of model year. The RFA encourages EPA to look at the waiver request with the entire range of vehicles in mind or provide detailed, scientific rationale for excluding older model vehicles.

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