AAA urges halting sale of E15 gasoline

Friday, December 7, 2012
Chris Woodward (

An organization that conducts research and evaluates public policies in the energy markets thinks AAA is on to something with its claims about E15 gasoline.

AAA has called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the sale of E15 until a better labeling system is developed and put forth. E15 is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, but is intended only for vehicles made in the last few years. The other, more common ethanol blend contains up to 10 percent ethanol, but questions remain as to whether that mix is good for older vehicles and small engines.

Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy for the Institute for Energy Research (IER), believes that the AAA has raised a legitimate concern.

Kish, Dan (IER)"We think that AAA is on to something. Many of the car manufacturers and small engine manufacturers have the same concern," Kish tells OneNewsNow.

"Despite the experts telling the EPA that there can be considerable problems using 15 percent ethanol, they went ahead and did it anyway. If something goes wrong, the EPA is not going to be responsible for it. Ultimately, it's going to be the consumer."

According to AAA, more than 240 million light-duty vehicles are currently on the roads -- 12 million of them are approved by manufacturers to use E15.

Still, Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen says AAA's concern reflects "a pathetic ignorance of EPA's test program before approving E15 for commercial use."

Labels are on the gas pump to notify drivers of the difference in ethanol blends. However, groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute have argued those labels only add to the number of labels on gas pumps.

Brian McGraw, a policy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, points out that "given the amount of gasoline pumped daily in this country, it is inevitable that numerous people will unintentionally add E15 to cars that are not equipped to handle it."
While a better label for E15 might allevitate this situation, McGraw says a better solution would be for the EPA to freeze the Renewable Fuel Standard at current levels, making E15 sales unnecessary. If E15 is a product consumers demand, the market will provide it, he argues.

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