The oil industry last week announced it is joining with food manufacturers, livestock producers and fast-food restaurants in an effort to block an increase in the amount of ethanol that can be added to gasoline. They say the federal Environmental Protection Agency doesn't have the authority to allow higher ethanol blends in some vehicles but not in others.
EPA last month agreed to allow cars and trucks that are 2007 and newer to run on gasoline with 15% ethanol in it, a blend known as E15. The ethanol limit in the U.S. has long been 10%, or E10, for all vehicles—except for "flex-fuel" cars and trucks that are manufactured to run on ethanol or gasoline. Flex-fuel vehicles can legally burn up to 85% ethanol blended with gasoline—the E85 blend.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association was joined by the American Petroleum Institute and some livestock and food industry groups—including the National Pork Producers Council, National Council of Chain Restaurants and the American Meat Institute, in asking a federal appeals court to block the EPA's E15 decision. Gasoline refiners also may challenge the EPA decision, as well as engine manufacturers and other sectors that have expressed concerns that potential misuse of E15 would damage engines.
IRFA leader takes oil industry to task for attacking E15
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association issued the following statement in response to last week's federal lawsuit filed by the American Petroleum Institute against EPA's decision to approve the use of E15 for 2007 and newer vehicles.
"It's hard to take seriously API's so-called concerns that the EPA approved E15 for some vehicles prematurely," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "This is the industry that poisoned generations of children with leaded fuel. When forced to stop selling leaded fuel, API's members devised another wonderful octane additive called MTBE. That known human carcinogen and water pollutant has been banned in dozens of states. And when states were banning MTBE did API members want to use a biodegradable, renewable replacement like ethanol? No. They tried to change federal fuel regulations in order to use aromatics to replace MTBE – aromatics like benzene, another known human carcinogen."
Shaw adds, "Contrary to this track record by the oil industry, the EPA has spent over a year-and-a-half testing E15. The fact of the matter is that E15 is the most tested fuel to ever enter the U.S. marketplace. And the test results are clear: E15 is good for your engine, good for your health, good for your security, good for your environment, and good for your pocketbook."
"Coalition for Subsistence Farming" strikes out against E15
Shaw also issued a second press release noting that the lawsuit against E15 was filed by a handful of associations referring to themselves collectively as 'The Coalition'--including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Meat Institute, The National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Meat Association, National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute.
Says Shaw, "This so-called 'Coalition' would be more accurately named the 'Coalition for Subsistence Farming.' For years, taxpayers spent billions on farm program costs while these industries profited handsomely from below-market corn prices. Thanks in part to ethanol, today corn farmers are receiving a fair market price for their labor, but this coalition wants to turn back the clock to the days of subsistence farming."
He adds, "In 2008 this coalition blamed rising food prices on ethanol. But every credible review of the facts – from USDA to the World Bank – found these groups raking in record profits as corn prices had a negligible impact on food prices. These facts remain central – energy prices impact the cost of food many times more than the price of corn and ethanol helps reduce energy prices. The 'Coalition' was wrong then and they are wrong now."
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. "IRFA is a trade group that fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development," says Shaw.