When the Senate votes this week on the resolution to continue government funding through September, it will have to consider a number of spending cuts approved by the House. One such issue involves defunding the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) program that would implement the sale of E-15 ethanol, a mixture containing a higher amount of ethanol than what is currently available. That blend, however, is only intended for vehicles made in or later than 2007.
Brian McGraw, a research associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) says it is not likely that the Senate will agree to all of the cuts, but he believes the E-15 program could follow the path of leaded gasoline.
"Senator [Charles] Grassley (R-Iowa) just said that he's not going to be able to support ethanol as much as he used to, and he was one of their biggest proponents," McGraw reports. "So, it's actually looking like it might get stopped."
While the higher blend would be available for newer model vehicles, the EPA says tests show it is safe for vehicles made as late as 2001. Even so, the CEI research associate does not favor E-15.
"There's something like 250 million registered vehicles in the United States. Two-thirds of those are 2001 model year and newer, so that would mean about 33 percent [of vehicles] are older," he reports.
The EPA claims it is making labels to help direct motorists to the blend compatible to their vehicles, but McGraw says that would only add to the number of labels already posted on gas pumps. Moreover, he adds that questions remain about what kind of impact E-15 ethanol and smaller blends will have on lawnmowers and other small engine appliances.