Three major farmer and ethanol groups today called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to formally approve the use of E12 (12% ethanol) in the nation’s gasoline supply. The groups – American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – in a formal letter to the EPA Administrator wrote, “based on the EPA’s delay in acting upon the full E15 waiver and on our concerns that the Agency will restrict the use of E15 to cars made in 2001 and thereafter, we encourage the EPA to formally approve the use of E12 for all motor vehicles as an immediate interim step pending any ongoing additional testing on E15.”
The letter, in its entirety, is below:
Dear Administrator Jackson:
We are writing to you to express our concern over reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is contemplating a narrowly limited waiver for fuels blended with 15 percent ethanol – E15 – in cars manufactured only in the 2007 model-year and newer. The EPA has ample information to grant a full waiver for E15 under Section 211(f)(4) for all automobiles, and we strongly support the request for such a waiver. Nonetheless, based on the EPA‟s delay in acting upon the full E15 waiver and on our concerns that the Agency will restrict the use of E15 to cars made in 2001 and thereafter, we encourage the EPA to formally approve the use of E12 for all motor vehicles as an immediate interim step pending any ongoing additional testing on E15.1
Despite Congress‟ and the President‟s clear intent to promote the use of renewable fuels, current EPA regulations unduly restrict expanded use of ethanol due to limits on the amount of ethanol that may be blended with gasoline — i.e., the blend wall issue. Decreasing dependence on foreign oil is a key to this country‟s environmental, energy and security policy, and the EPA must provide a practical and workable solution to the ethanol blend wall issue and do so soon. Allowing E12 for all motor vehicles as an interim step to a full waiver for E15 is a reasonable and defensible first step to solve the immediate problem.
Pending before the EPA is a request for approval under Section 211(f) of the Clean Air Act for ethanol blends up to E15. The EPA has also indicated that it would carefully consider allowing E12 for all motor vehicles, but that it still requires test data on the emissions effects of E12. In so doing, the EPA has discounted or ignored the fact that it has already approved fuels with oxygen content that is equivalent to E12 and, therefore, additional testing is not required. Under EPA‟s existing policies that allow “stacking” of oxygenates, the EPA has approved use of fuel with oxygen content equivalent to E12 and, thus, would need only to confirm that E12 is authorized under Section 211(f) of the Clean Air Act.
The EPA has recognized that fuels with oxygen content as high as 4% are authorized and in use. The EPA requires testing of fuels with oxygen content of 4% as part of its Complex Model. The EPA defined the model‟s oxygen limits “so as to encompass all oxygenated gasolines which meet the EPA‟s „substantially similar‟ requirements, including a small blending tolerance.”1 Recognizing different fuel densities, the EPA raised the oxygen limit to 4% to cover “fuels which are already being produced,” and found this change will have no additional impact on vehicle driveability and no adverse impact on the environment.2 This shows that fuels with oxygen content by weight percent close to that of E12 have been in use in the United States and, thus, approved by the EPA as consistent with the Clean Air Act.
Through a series of guidance, the EPA has already authorized fuels with oxygen content equivalent to E12, regardless of fuel density.
Further, in a September 1988 letter, the EPA permitted base fuels containing no more than 2.0% MTBE to be unintentionally commingled with E10; that is, the EPA recognized that “stacking” of oxygenates occurs and that such stacking does not violate the Clean Air Act.3 Oxygen content is oxygen content regardless of the source — MTBE (which has been eliminated from the marketplace) and ethanol or just ethanol. Adding this to the oxygen content EPA has allowed through guidance as described above, EPA has authorized fuel with oxygen content equivalent to ethanol volumes of E12 already. Thus, not only does this show that fuels with oxygen content equivalent to E12 (approximately 4.2%) have been used historically, without a problem, it verifies that EPA need only confirm such fuels are authorized under Section 211(f).
In allowing such fuels, the EPA has found such higher oxygen content would not adversely impact vehicle emissions controls. The EPA‟s finding is supported by the fact that such fuels have already existed in the marketplace without event. Put simply, there is ample support that E12 does not have adverse impacts on vehicle emission controls, and, in allowing stacking of oxygenates, the EPA has already approved fuels with oxygen content equivalent to E12. No further delay in formally approving E12 under the EPA‟s authority is warranted.
While the EPA considers waiver requests in the short term, we believe that in the long term the way to provide additional fuel choices for consumers and market access for ethanol blends is through the deployment of more Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and blender pumps. We are working closely with Members of Congress to advance these policies.
We appreciate the EPA‟s efforts in addressing this important issue and ensuring full implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The volumes required under the Renewable Fuel Standard are minimum volumes, and increased use of renewable fuel is vital to our country‟s environmental, energy and security policy. Quick action by the EPA to address the blend wall issue is necessary. The EPA can, and must, formally allow for use of E12 immediately on all cars under Section 211(f) as a practical, workable, and smooth transition if it cannot grant a full E15 waiver at this time.
American Coalition for Ethanol
National Corn Growers Association
Renewable Fuels Association
1 EPA, Final Regulatory Impact Analysis for Reformulated Gasoline, at 194, EPA420-R-93-017 (Dec. 1993), available at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/regs/fuels/rfg/420r93017.pdf.
2 59 Fed. Reg. 36,944, 36,947-36,948 (July 20, 1994).
3 Letter from Richard D. Wilson, Director, Office of Mobile Sources, U.S. EPA, to Marilyn Herman, President, Herman and Associates (Sept. 7, 1988). MTBE is 18% oxygen by weight, which would allow an additional oxygen equivalent of 0.36% weight.