House Defunds E-15 Waivers

An amendment to the House budget bill stops federal funding to EPA E-15 waivers, amid concerns over the safety of the fuel for vehicles.

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to block the (EPA) from moving toward a higher blend of ethanol in gasoline, passing an amendment to the House budget bill on Saturday that defunds the EPA’s E15 waivers.

Representatives voted 286-135 against allowing the EPA to issue waivers allowing gas stations to sell E15.

This follows an ongoing debate after the EPA approved higher levels of ethanol (E15 or 15% ethanol) in gasoline, specifically for use in 2007 and newer automobiles only in fall 2010. Prior, fueling stations were only allowed to sell E10, which contains up to 10% of the biofuel.

Representative John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma) attached the amendment H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act 201, to the bill, blocking federal funding of EPA action implementing the use of a higher level of ethanol in gasoline, effectively killing the legislation.

“My amendment ensures consumer safety, plain and simple,” Sullivan was quoted by AfterMarketNews. “The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address important safety issues raised by the 50% increase in the ethanol mandate issued over the past year. Putting E15 into our general fuel supply could adversely impact up to 60% of cars on the road today – leading to consumer confusion at the pump and possible engine failure in the cars they drive.  These decisions can also negatively impact marine and other non-road engines such as boats and lawn mowers. My amendment put the brakes on E15 for the rest of the fiscal year, giving Congress time to address these questions and ensure consumer safety at the pump.”

Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association agreed. “Every American who owns a car, light-duty truck, motorcycle, snowmobile or outdoor power equipment will benefit by the House vote that has the effect of blocking the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol, known as E15,” Drevna said in a statement. “House members in both parties have served the best interests of the American people on this important consumer protection issue, and we urge the Senate to join them.”

He added, “EPA’s approval of the sale of E15 for late-model cars and light-duty trucks was unwise and premature, because thorough and objective scientific testing to establish whether E15 will damage gasoline-powered engines has not been completed. In addition, EPA approval of E15 was unlawful because it did not cover all gasoline-powered engines. It could have led to misfueling that could have cost Americans millions of dollars in engine repair bills. America’s petroleum refiners have been manufacturing safe, reliable and proven fuels to serve the American people for more than 100 years and will be doing so for many decades to come. We appreciate the work of Rep. John Sullivan and the many House members who supported his important consumer protection amendment.”

The Renewable Fuels Association criticized the decision to stop funding the E15 waiver, while many groups were staunchly opposed to an increase in ethanol, including groups ranging from the Specialty Equipment Market Association to the American Bakers Association, which has argued that federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol are contributing to rising food and ingredient costs.

While the EPA has already approved E15 for vehicles made after 2001, some groups fear a higher blend could hurt older engines. Those in favor of the increase claim larger ethanol quantities would lower America’s dependence on foreign oil.

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