Here’s an update on recent news items and other public policy developments during the last few weeks relating to the use and market acceptance of 15% blends of ethanol into gasoline (“E15”) and other higher blends of ethanol such as E85.
API and its allies file Supreme Court appeal. On February 21, 2013, the American Petroleum Institute and its co-plaintiffs filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court of the January 15 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge EPA’s partial waivers to approve the sale of E15 ethanol. In filing this appeal, API reaffirmed its belief that the petitioners had standing to challenge the decisions, and restated their assertion that “E15 is not safe for millions of vehicles now on the road”.
Senate bill would block EPA approval of E15. On February 14, 2013, Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and David Vitter (R-La.) introduced a bill, S.344, that would prevent EPA from approving ethanol blends of greater than 10%, and which would overturn EPA’s prior approval of E15 blends. Statements by the senators alleged that EPA’s “flawed waivers” were “short-sighted regulations” issued by bureaucrats that would negatively affect families and businesses and which were made “without sufficient testing and analysis” of E15. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) is reportedly planning to submit an identical bill in the House.
New pump configuration approved. On Feb. 7, the EPA approved a new blender pump configuration for the sale of E15 and E10, in response to a proposal submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association. The new configuration addresses the problem arising when two different gasoline-ethanol blends are dispensed from the same hose and nozzle – because this may cause residual fuel from an E15 fueling to mix with a later E10 fueling, EPA had previously instituted a 4 gallon minimum purchase, but this posed a problem for vehicles and other small engines which could not receive as much as four gallons in a single fueling. Under the new option, a retailer could provide a dedicated pump only for gasoline with 10% or less ethanol, with accompanying signage directing customers to this pump, and with the requirement that the E15 dispenser be labeled with the message “Passenger Vehicles Only. Use in Other Vehicle Engines and Equipment May Violate Federal Law.”
Update: Proposed anti-E15 legislation in Maine. To clarify previously-reported items, the anti-ethanol bills filed in the Maine legislature by Representative Jeff Timberlake are distinct from the legislation that is being prepared by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. One of Timberlake’s bills would ban ethanol completely from Maine’s gasoline if other New England states adopt similar bans. In fact, such a bill is pending in the New Hampshire state legislature: House Bill 362, which has been introduced in previous years, would ban the use of “corn-based” ethanol in the state. Committee hearings were held in New Hampshire in late January, but the bill’s chances of success are not known.
Illinois sales tax incentives. A bill introduced in the Illinois legislature would transfer a sales tax incentive now available for E10 fuel to E15. Rather than have the incentive apply to any ethanol-gasoline blends of greater than 10%, the language of the bill would apparently remove the tax incentive completely from E10 in favor of E15, and because E15 may not be widely available in regions of the state, particularly Chicago (allegedly due to the need for upgrading vapor recovery systems), the bill has been criticized as increasing the tax burden on most motorists.
Previous Biofuel Policy Watch posts on ethanol policy:
D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels.