Klobuchar works to expand E15 waiver

(By: Daily Globe, Worthington http://ethanolrfa.3cdn.net/934abeccc70545542f_96m6bugqf.pdf)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will extend a waiver allowing gasoline with blends of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be used in cars built between 2001 and 2006.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., had called on the EPA to expand E15 use to older vehicles when the agency announced last fall it would allow E15 to be used in vehicles made since the 2007 model year. The decision to include older model years means up to 60 percent of cars and trucks on the road can run on E15 gasoline.

“The U.S. has the ability to be the global leader in energy because of the ingenuity of our farmers and manufacturers,” Klobuchar said. “This announcement will strengthen our homegrown energy economy, help our country utilize more homegrown biofuels, and decrease our dependence on foreign energy.”

Minnesota has 21 ethanol plants that generated an estimated $3 billion in economic output and nearly 8,400 jobs last year. Estimates show the nationwide adoption of E15 could reduce the importation of up to seven billion gallons of gasoline per year and inject an estimated $24 billion into the U.S. economy.

Our Take:
We applaud the work of Senator Amy Klobuchar and others who have publicly supported the move to E15 and the expansion of the waiver to cover all light duty vehicles built in 2001 and after. But we need to keep going.

First, we are not convinced there is any material difference between 2001 vehicles and 2000 vehicles. A U.S. EPA official who spoke anonymously said the decision to set year 2001 models as the beginning date had to do with the ability of EPA to procure low mileage mint condition vehicles from that model year and before in order to run them through its testing procedures.

The Ricardo study, conducted by one of the nation’s leading automotive engineering firms (which apparently did not have the same difficulty as the EPA), found that vehicles built between 1994 and 2001 can operate on E15 with no difficulty. See the study at http://ethanolrfa.3cdn.net/934abeccc70545542f_96m6bugqf.pdf

So let’s not let U.S. energy policy be a hostage to a shrinking fleet of legacy vehicles (made before 2001). Especially when the distinction that makes them legacy vehicles is imaginary.

The EPA decision is a waiver, not a mandate, but it will allow fuel companies decide to blend more ethanol on the basis of economics, and to bypass the E10 blend wall. Getting beyond the blend wall is a necessity, in order to achieve the goals set in law by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act–namely that the U.S. inject 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply this year, and rising stepwise, grow that to 15 billion gallons by 2015. If every vehicle built 2001 and after employed E15, ethanol consumption nationwide would rise to 17.5 billion gallons.

In two years, Minnesota is set to jump to 20 percent ethanol fuel in its gasoline–all testing of mid-level blends shows conventional gasoline cars performing well up to E30. That will mean Minnesotans will consume 250-300 million more gallons of ethanol, and displace a huge volume of fossil fuels. Minnesota benefits on multiple levels–cleaner air, lower trade deficit, more jobs and money kept here in Minnesota. Growing the ethanol industry supports the ongoing prosperity of Minnesota farms and agriculture. The conservative estimate quoted in the Daily Globe article ranks the direct economic impact of Minnesota’s current ethanol industry at $3 billion dollars annually, supporting 8,400 jobs directly. The doubling of our ethanol consumption will significantly increase both of those benefits.

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