US House panel passes bill requiring more studies of E15 impacts

The US House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved legislation that would require the US Environmental Protection Agency to further study possible impacts of increasing allowable ethanol levels in gasoline to 15%. HR 3199, which passed by 19 to 7 votes, would make EPA work with the National Academy of Sciences to comprehensively assess scientific research on E15 before approving its introduction into the marketplace.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrunner (R-Wis.), the committee’s vice-chairman and the bill’s sponsor, said following the Feb. 7 vote that lawmakers simply put science above politics. “The administration fast-tracked E15 without considering that increasing the percentage of ethanol in our gasoline will cause premature engine failure, lower fuel efficiency, and void vehicle warranties,” he declared. “In small engines, E15 is downright dangerous, and EPA has no credible plan to stop misfueling.”

Thirty-one groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and American Petrochemical & Fuel Manufacturers, signed a Feb. 6 letter to committee chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-Tex.) and ranking minority member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) supporting HR 3199, Sensenbrunner noted.

API and AFPM officials separately welcomed the committee’s action. “We need to press the pause button on EPA’s rush to allow higher amounts of ethanol in our gasoline,” said Bob Greco, API’s downstream and industry operations director. “Our first priority should be protecting consumers and the investments they’ve made in their automobiles. Further scientific testing is required, and EPA has an obligation to base this decision on science, not a political agenda.”

AFPM Pres. Charles T. Drevna said, “Our members want to continue manufacturing safe, reliable, and proven fuels that meet the highest quality standards to serve the American people. We don’t want American consumers and the engines that power their vehicles and equipment to be used as guinea pigs in a giant science experiment. The safety of ethanol beyond the current 10% blend should be clearly established before higher ethanol levels are approved.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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