Groups reiterate opposition to year-round E-15 sales

The US Environmental Protection Agency has not adequately prepared for potential engine damage problems which would result from using the wrong fuel, officials from the American Petroleum Institute and two other trade associations warned.

Apr 25th, 2019

The US Environmental Protection Agency has not adequately prepared for potential engine damage problems which would result from using the wrong fuel, officials from the American Petroleum Institute and two other trade associations warned. They expressed their concerns after EPA Administrator Andrew W. Wheeler recently said that E15 sales during the summer could be authorized in time for the upcoming peak driving season.

“EPA’s decision to expand the sale of E15 gasoline to the summer months makes no sense,” API Vice-Pres. of Downstream and Industry Operations Frank J. Macchiarola told reporters during an Apr. 25 teleconference. “It is clearly contrary to the law and it reverses nearly 30 years of statutory interpretation from the agency.”

“We are not fighting against year-round E15 sales just for fun – we oppose EPA’s reckless proposal because it will increase the availability of a fuel that destroys marine engines and jeopardizes the safety of boaters,” added Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice-Pres. of Government and Legal Affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the US are approved by EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10%. Yet EPA does not appear interested in conducting the necessary education program to make certain that misfuelling does not take place,” said Wayne Allard, vice president of government affairs at the American Motorcyclist Association.

“EPA has said during the past three administrations that it does not have the authority to do this. It’s hard to imagine it can justify moving ahead despite 3 decades of different policies. We’ll keep our options open,” Macchiarola indicated.

Education and disclosure

EPA would serve motorists’ interests better if it concentrated more on educating them about the types of fuels that are being sold and where the formulations work best, the three officials agreed. More work also is needed in disclosing formulations at refueling sites, they added.

“Each year, 142 million recreation boaters take to the water in about 12 million boats. Only 1 in 5 NMMA members say they know the amount of ethanol at the gas pump. Considering most of them refuel their boats at gasoline stations across the country, changing the formulation will increase the possibilities of misfuelling,” Vasilaros said.

“We are endorsing legislation to improve labelling and education for E15. I’ve personally experienced filling my car up with what I thought was E10 but turned out to be E15 when I tested it. That happened at a station in the Washington area,” Allard said. More motorists need to be aware that many hardware stores sell relatively inexpensive devices which show how much ethanol is in gasoline, he added.

“There is some language in the proposal that talks about misfuelling, but EPA does not seem interested in educating consumers about this,” said Vasilaros. “Even if you want to protect your vehicle, it’s hard to find on the pump. More consumers need to start by studying the information in their owner’s manuals. Also, the average consumer doesn’t realize that what many states market as Unleaded 88 to promote higher octane actually is E15.”

Macchiarola said that provisions in EPA’s proposed rule that are designed to address problems with the Renewable Identification Numbers system the agency implemented to help refiners and other obligated parties meet quotas under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard also are problematic.

“We think this is a solution that is looking for a problem. We think volatility is not a problem in and of itself. These are significant reforms that have not been tested and analyzed. So from both a process standpoint and a substance standpoint, this rule is a mess,” he declared.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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