US Senate urged to deny higher ethanol blending cap

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 9 -- A coalition of associations and organizations asked the US Senate on Feb. 6 not to approve a provision in the economic stimulus bill it is debating that would increase the current ethanol blending cap.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and 18 other groups said that adopting such a provision would short-circuit the Clean Air Act regulatory structure for approving the introduction of new fuels or fuel blends, and would lead to increased air emissions from gasoline-powered engines and potentially endanger consumers.

"In our collective opinion, a decision on whether to permit the use of ethanol concentration in excess of 10% in gasoline (so-called 'midlevel ethanol blends') in motor vehicle and equipment engines must be guided solely by sound, unbiased, and comprehensive science and must hold true to the fundamental purposes of protecting the environment and consumers," they said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

In addition to NPRA, the coalition included the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Lung Association, Engine Manufacturers Association, Friends of the Earth, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Collectively, our organizations strongly believe that this issue should not be part of the economic stimulus package currently under consideration by the United State Senate," the letter continued. Before midlevel ethanol blends are allowed, testing by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy should be allowed to continue, and the results must indicate that higher ethanol blends in gasoline-powered engines do not pose a threat to air quality or consumers, it urged.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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