US senators introduce bill to block gasoline with more than 10% ethanol

(SeeNews) - Feb 18, 2013 - On Thursday last week, US senators Roger Wicker and David Vitter introduced a bill to prevent the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from approving the commercial launch of gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol.

The bill would repeal EPA waivers that allowed gasoline with 15% ethanol content (E15) to be used in many passenger cars and light trucks, the senators said. EPA issued two waivers to enable the use of E15 – one in 2010 for use in 2007 or newer cars and light trucks and another in 2011 for vehicles model year 2001 to 2006.

According to the senators, the higher ethanol blend has been found to result in engine damage, lower fuel efficiency, play a part in higher corn prices and add to increasing food costs for US consumers. "It is irresponsible for EPA to allow E15 without sufficient testing and technical analysis. I support an all-inclusive energy strategy, but experimenting before understanding the consequences and potential cost of using E15 is unfair to consumers," Vitter said in a statement.

In November last year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) called on the Obama administration to stop the sale of E15 due to possible engine damage, the senators noted.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) hit at the bill, describing it as the latest "protectionist measure for coddled petroleum industry." IRFA executive director Monte Shaw said: "After exhaustive testing, the approval of E15 represented the first minuscule reduction of the petroleum mandate in 30 years, but Big Oil is working non-stop through legislative, regulatory and judicial efforts to ban E15 as a lower cost option for motorists."

Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries with an annual capacity of more than 3.7 billion gallons (14 billion litres), as well as 12 biodiesel facilities.

The bill has been assigned to a congressional committee, which will examine it before potentially sending it on to the House or Senate.

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Browse all articles from Plamena Tisheva

Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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