E15 Questions for AAA from THE AUTO CHANNEL

Posted on: January 04, 2013 in E15, Ethanol

Today, Marc Rauch of THE AUTO CHANNEL, wrote to AAA with questions resulting from recent claims against E15.

Hello Michael -

Yesterday, I was made aware of a video story produced by Melissa Francis and FOX News that was based upon either the above titled AAA editorial written by your organization's CEO, or a very similar earlier AAA editorial that was released on or about November 30, 2012. By the way, please feel free to share this email with Robert Darbelnet and any other AAA staff member.

In the video, Ms. Francis introduced a guest, Lauren Fix, to comment on and explain the "warnings" made in your editorial. Although neither Ms. Francis nor Ms. Fix identified Ms. Fix as an official AAA spokesperson, she seems to have virtually acted in that capacity. You can view the video at: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2000862202001/warnings-not-to-use-e15-gas-in-your-car/ .

I found almost everything that Ms. Fix had to say about ethanol to be either a gross lie or a recitation of typical bad propaganda that has been spread by the oil industry and its lackeys over the past 80+ years. In a separate email, I made my opinion known to both Ms. Fix and Ms. Francis. My comments to them are as follows:

I am writing to you concerning the recent video story that Melissa Francis did with Lauren Fix regarding E15.

I am co-owner of THE AUTO CHANNEL and THE AUTOCHANNEL.com. We are the Internet's largest automotive information resource. We are completely independent and not sponsored by any fuel producer.

The information provided by Lauren Fix about E15 is almost completely untrue. Lauren's explanation of phase-separation and the food-price argument about corn are preposterously puerile. In fact, if you live in a cold climate and your fuel tank and lines have a tendency to collect condensation (water), which would then freeze and cause real damage, the solution is to put Dry Gas in the fuel tank. Dry Gas is alcohol. Alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol "absorbs" the water moisture.

Fuel left in an unused engine for an extended period of time can break down and cause a starting or running problem. This is true of all fuels, including and especially gasoline, which leaves gummy varnish like deposits. Sta-Bil, another product used to stabilize the gasoline left in dormant engines also contains alcohol to help prevent the gummy build up. And again, alcohol is ethanol.

E15 will not damage the engines of vehicles older than 2012. It has been extensively tested. It can be safely used in all modern gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured since the early 1990's, whether they are "flex-fuel" vehicles or not. Incidentally, when the EPA conducted their tests on E15 and gave their "clean bill of health," they also tested E20 and had the same positive conclusions.

I have been test driving vehicles for 25 years and have regularly used various blend levels of gasoline and ethanol with no negative reactions. Furthermore, I own and drive a non-flex fuel 2002 Ford Taurus that I run on high blend levels of gasoline and ethanol. My vehicle suffers from no problems that are not normally associated with all gasoline-powered vehicles.

Michael, I would imagine that unless you can confirm Ms. Fix as an official spokesperson for AAA that you will not have any comments to make regarding her comments, and that's fine since the point of this email is not to get the AAA reaction to her comments. I'm simply including this episode as background for the questions that I do have regarding the above mentioned AAA editorial.

My questions to you are:

1. What oil-industry-independent "research-to-date" was Mr. Darbelnet citing that "...raises serious concerns that E15...could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, (and) fuel system damage...?"

2. What information do you have, other than unsupported oil-industry claims, that the EPA did not conduct tests sufficient to determine the safety of using E15 in gasoline-powered passenger vehicles manufactured in the past two decades?

3. Does AAA not consider that the independent E15 testing conducted by Ricardo (findings released September 2010) to be significant confirmation that E15 is safe for all modern gasoline-powered vehicles?

4. In paragraph 8 of the editorial, Mr. Darbelnet states that "Some of those supporting E15 admit the fuel may cause damage," and you give the example that "...some underground storage tank systems, both new and used, exhibited reduced levels of safety and performance when exposed to E15." Given that all fuel underground storage tank systems routinely experience problems, what information do you have - other than any oil-industry anti-ethanol biased research - that shows that E15 underground storage tanks experience problems that are greater and/or more frequent than underground storage tanks that are used for diesel, E10 gasoline, E85, or gasoline that contains no ethanol?

5. In addition, in regard to paragraph 8, how does this potential problem relate to vehicle engine damage, and wouldn't it be fair to say that combining the two points is just an irrelevant red-herring warning?

6. Does AAA agree with the overall level of warning that FOX News issued - which they based upon the AAA editorial - about E15, or did they overstate your concerns?

I look forward to your reply and any instructive information you can provide.

Thank you for your time.

Very truly yours,

Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President
THE AUTO CHANNEL LLC
www.theautochannel.com

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