E15 Hearing: No Science, Just Hyperbolic Rhetoric and Scare Mongering

February 25, 2013

E15 Hearing: No Science, Just Hyperbolic Rhetoric and Scare Mongering

(February 25, 2013) Washington, D.C. -- In advance of tomorrow’s House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment’s hearing on E15, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association submitted a letter to both protest the one-sided, Big Oil influenced nature of the witness list as well as note for the record the extensive and quality testing prior to the approval of E15, and the cost-saving, environment-enhancing, national security strengthening benefits of this new ethanol blend.

Dinneen comments on the need for such a letter, “It both saddens and angers me that in this day and age such a lopsided, stacked hearing could actually happen. It is shameful to see how tight of a grip oil companies have on Congress.  Big Oil is running scared because their profit-gouging monopoly is threatened by Americans’ desire for fuel choice and savings.  Ethanol and E15 are gaining momentum.  Science and consumer demand are on our side.  The facts and our track record will speak louder than any scare tactic.”

The letter begins, “Fundamentally, the debate about E15 should be one of consumer choice.  There is no requirement that gasoline marketers offer E15 and no mandate for consumers to buy it.  However, for those marketers that want to offer their customers a higher octane alternative to petroleum, E15 is a great option. 

“As gasoline prices across the country continue to climb, threatening household budgets and economic recovery alike, ethanol continues to provide consumer savings at the pump.  Today, ethanol is priced approximately $0.80 below the wholesale costs of gasoline.  Beyond its gasoline displacement benefit, as ethanol now represents 10 percent of the nation’s motor gasoline supply, it has greatly reduced the need for imports and provided a macroeconomic benefit to gasoline prices.  Depending on the study you choose, the increased use of ethanol in 2011 saved consumers between $0.89 and $1.09.  Those savings would only be enhanced by the use of ethanol in higher blends.”

Dinneen highlights the hypocrisy of the charges against E15 by noting the blind eye turned toward suboctane gasoline violations: “Unfortunately, due to the hyperbolic rhetoric and scare mongering by the major oil companies concerned about losing even more market share to domestically produced renewables, today there are only about 12 stations across the entire country offering this fuel to consumers with 2001 and newer vehicles.  While we want that market share to grow, the attention these 12 stations are attracting seems wildly disproportionate to the potential harm, particularly when viewed in the context of other fuel quality issues with demonstrable negative consequences for consumers and air quality.  For example, in many mountain states today refiners are selling a sub-octane gasoline that is not covered under any car manufacturer’s warranty.  It is well understood that less than 87 octane gasoline will cause engine damage and undermine emissions control systems.  Where is the outrage about that?  When will there be a Committee hearing about inferior gasoline threatening our air and engines?  The myopic focus of this Committee on E15, to the exclusion of other more significant gasoline quality issues, fuels cynicism and leads to the inescapable conclusion that this is about market share, not safety.”

The letter notes, “E15 has been the most aggressively and comprehensively tested fuel in the history of the EPA.  The miles driven on E15 equate to 12 round trips to the moon and back without a single failure.” It continues on to explain RFA’s Misfueling Mitigation Plan and recent actions to address small engine and motorcycle concerns.

In closing, Dinneen offers to work closely with the Subcommittee on a more balanced approach to E15 reviews in the future. “To leave the market artificially constrained further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization, missing an opportunity to meaningfully increase America’s use of renewable fuels and reduce our dependence on imported oil.  The RFA is working diligently with the petroleum industry, gas retailers, automakers, and consumers to ensure E15 is used properly.  The RFA looks forward to working with you to further develop and implement sound policies around the science of E15.”

To read the letter in full, please click here or visit www.EthanolRFA.org