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AAA calls for halt in introducing E15 into the marketplace

The nation’s largest motor club urged the US Environmental Protection Agency and the fuel ethanol industry to delay introduction of gasoline with 15% ethanol into the marketplace until the public better understands its potential to damage engines and void warranties.

A recent survey found that 95% of motorists hadn’t even heard of E15, AAA said on Nov. 30. “It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” AAA Pres. Robert Darbelnet noted. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”

Darbelnet said only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on US highways are approved by manufacturers to use E15, based on an earlier AAA survey of automotive manufacturers.

AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15, Darbelnet said.

“Perhaps now, EPA will be forced to use real science rather than political science because, it would be difficult to dismiss AAA which conducted the survey and represents the interests of 53 million consumers,” the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said on Nov. 30 in response to the motor club’s announcement.

“EPA is rushing to impose a new fuel into the marketplace while ignoring studies that demonstrate that E15 damages existing automobiles, small engines like those in chainsaws or lawnmowers, off-road engines and gasoline refueling infrastructure,” AFPM continued. “We are confident that legal challenges moving through the judicial process will eventually confirm what we already know—EPA violated the law in approving a partial waiver for E15.”

An American Petroleum Institute spokesman cited vehicle research done by automakers and the oil industry showing that 5 million or more cars on the road today that EPA has approved to use E15 could be damaged by the fuel, testimony by automakers that E15 would void warranties, and government research showing that half of all existing gasoline station equipment is not compatible with E15.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.


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