Archive for the ‘E15’ Category

“E15 increases consumer choice”

By MCGA Agvocate Kevin Welter

July 18, 2008, for many of you this day does not have any significance. For me, this is a day that changed my life as I had previously known it. July 18th was the day I passed my driver’s test. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Holding the keys in my hand for the first time was the greatest feeling in the world, even if the keys were to an ’89 Chevy Cavalier. Looking back on that day I gained many of freedoms and expenses. The greatest expense was gas, which made me very interested in gas mileage.

In high school, I had the opportunity to be one of four students at my high school to help start the Supermilage Challenge at Stewartville. For those of you that are not familiar with the competition, a group of high school students build a one person vehicle from scratch to achieve the highest gas mileage. The first year we competed in the stock class where your vehicle runs on unleaded gasoline. Three of the four team members grew up in a farming background, which lead to our interest in renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The next two years we decided to compete in the E-85 class. Before officially switching classes, we did a lot of research on ethanol and the benefits it has not only for the environment, but also for the saving in consumers wallets. Many researchers agree that ethanol provides about thirty to sixty percent more energy than what is required to make a gallon of ethanol, meaning ethanol has a positive net energy. Compared to gasoline, ethanol reduces CO2 emissions.

One thing we had found from our experiences and research is that all engines can run on a blend of ethanol and gasoline. The tricky part is getting the correct blend for your engine. All passenger vehicles are approved to run up to a blend of 10% ethanol or E10. Over the past few years there has been a lot of research and tests conducted to find out which blend will perform well in vehicles currently on the road. The results of the research and tests caused the recent approval of the EPA for E15 in passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. In January 2011 about 60% of the vehicles driven in the US are 2001 and newer. With more than half of the vehicle on the road with the ability to run this blend of fuel you would think we would see an E15 option at every gas station. The issue is there are laws and regulations in 36 states that inhibit the sale of E15. These laws may take a while to be updated to include the demand for E15.

As a consumer, I hope in the future that more tests are conducted to check the performance of high blends of ethanol. In the future, I feel like there will be many different blend options available for consumers. The approval of E15 is a step in the right direction for consumer choice and for the growth of the domestic renewable energy industry. I currently drive a vehicle manufactured in 2006. Next time I fill up at a gas station with an E15 option, I will be choosing this higher blend of renewable energy.


Time to give Toyota a piece of your mind about its misguided E15 policy?

(excerpt from article, “E15 gas brings conflict to pumps” by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune)

A new blend of ethanol and gasoline may soon show up at the gas station pumps — along with mixed messages on whether it’s safe to put it in your vehicle.

Motorists driving up to pumps for the new, higher-ethanol “E15” will see government-mandated orange-and-black signs that say the new fuel blend is approved for use in all 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.

Two of the biggest carmakers offer puzzling or contrary messages, right on their gasoline caps. Toyota warns on its 2012 model gas caps not to use E15. Ford offers less-explicit advice.

“When you pull up to the pump it will say you can use this, and then you turn to your gas cap, it says you may not use this — it’s going to be very, very confusing,” said Bob Ebert, service director for Walser Automotive Group in the Twin Cities.

In Congress, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is pushing a bill to halt introduction of E15 and conduct more research. “I think this is outrageous,” he said. “The government is telling consumers to use a product that the manufacturer of their car says will … void the warranty.”

Our Take:
The circle-slash through E15-E85 on the Toyota gas cap is frankly what Mr. Sensenbrenner should offer a law to prevent. E15 has made its way through rigorous government testing, has earned its seal of approval, and this move by Toyota car company has nothing to do with real world performance and everything to do with the prevalence of law suits with no merit.

E15, which is 15 percent ethanol, is now the most tested gasoline blend ever produced. After this exhaustive testing program, US Environmental Protection Agency has certified E15 as a fuel that poses no performance or emissions problems for cars and light trucks built in 2001 or later.

Along come the attorneys of Toyota car company, putting a finger up to test the wind of meritless civil suits, and they decide to throw a little proactive legal rhetoric on the gas cap to discourage people from using E15 even in its latest models. And if the motorists do fill up with E15, they have been warned. In this era of unending litigation, in which Toyota has been sued over totally unrelated performance problem—problems never fully proved to be more than a figment of the imagination, perhaps one cannot blame them.

But the weight of the US government in certifying this fuel should be enough. Especially when a very clear E15 label is required on every pump that dispenses the new fuel.

Toyota, and all the other car companies should be with the program by now. US energy policy regarding renewable energy has one main goal in mind—energy independence. Though promising new domestic oil sources are being captured, these represent a fraction of the energy we use in our vehicles. And even the Bakken oil fields and the Canadian tar sands will produce their final barrel at some point. Renewable, plant-based energy, like the solar power it captures, will be available for billions of years—as long as the sun shines. And current car and fuel dispensing equipment has no difficulty with E15. That’s been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If you would like to let Toyota know what you think of its timid stand on energy independence, you can send email to them through their customer help web site at

Deliberately misleading headline of the week: “Why is the Gov’t Mandating E15 if Big Ethanol is Unwilling to Back it?”

 Just classic. According to Consumer Reports, the corn ethanol lobby has introduced legislation that would:

 “ … leave consumers on the hook for any product damage caused by E15 …Rather than trying to solve the problem of preventing damage from E15 and easing its transition into the marketplace, this bill would simply sweep aside all liability for everyone but the consumer,”

Our Take:

E15 is the most tested fuel in history. Because it is an outstanding motor fuel, it is currently approved for use by EPA in light duty gasoline-engine motor vehicles built in 2001 or after.

The legislation referred to by CR and this blogger, the Domestic Fuel Protection Act, is not in any way, shape or form a comment on the quality of E15. It is a comment on what it means to try to sell a product, any product, in our litigious society. The proposed law states that since E15 is thoroughly tested and approved for a certain class of vehicles (about 65 percent of America’s light duty vehicle fleet), since fueling station equipment is all approved to handle the fuel, and where stations post obvious labeling and otherwise instruct consumers about what vehicles E15 is approved for use in, if some fine citizen decides to use E15 in his 1980 gas-powered weed trimmer and the small engine machine (for which E15 is not approved) breaks down (couldn’t be that the trimmer is old, or that the operator never replaced the oil, etc) this law would shield the gas station owner and the ethanol producer from a frivolous lawsuit brought by the consumer.

Caveat Emptor–buyer beware–is a line that has to be drawn somewhere, unless you want the grocery store to send an agent to your house to make sure you cook your ground beef at 160 degrees for the minimum required time period to assure destruction of harmful bacteria. Who’s responsible for damages if you put a 200-watt flood light into a lamp rated for 60 watt bulbs or less which has been clearly labeled by the manufacturer?  We think motorists want the chance to choose E15 and a common sense approach to liability will help to make that happen.

It’s also important to note that the EPA ruling is not a mandate, but simply a seal of approval allowing E15 to be sold as a gasoline blend. The reason consumers will choose it is quality and price–if it maintains a competitive stance, in both these aspects–and we know it will–it will win consumers. Since it works as well as a gasoline blend, the fact that the ethanol component is renewable, that it is not imported from unstable regimes who declare themselves to be enemies of the West–these characteristics make E15 an easy choice when you pull up to the pump.

EPA approves four MN companies to market E15

WASHINGTON – Minnesota has four companies that could be among the first in the country to sell a richer blend of ethanol and gasoline.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its approval of 24 companies to offer a blend that is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. Among the first companies lining up to produce what is commonly called E15 are the owners of ethanol plants in Benson, Marshall and Fairmont and Wayzata-based Cargill, Inc.

Advocates say the mixture of gasoline and renewable ethanol could sell for 5 to 10 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline at a time when soaring gas prices dig deeper than ever into Americans’ pocketbooks.

“There should be some E15 in the market in the next month or two,” predicted Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, a trade association for ethanol producers. “Market economics should drive it.”

Cargill did not hazard a guess of when E15 might actually be available to motorists.

“This is an important and positive step toward increased usage of ethanol,” company spokesman Pete Stoddard said. “But more steps are needed for E15 to gain widespread adoption in the market.”

Among the biggest hurdles is that EPA restricts E15 to vehicles built in 2001 and later. The restriction requires companies to file plans to ensure E15 is kept out of older vehicles, as well as boats and gasoline-powered equipment, where the EPA says it may cause damage.

Minnesota requires all gas stations in the state to offer 10 percent ethanol (E10), said Christine Connelly of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For now, it will not do the same for E15.

“Minnesota law says that unless it’s allowed in all vehicles, regardless of year, you can sell it, but it won’t be mandated,” Connelly explained.

While the lack of a mandate puts a crimp in marketing E15, Buis called EPA announcement a major move for those who earned the agency’s approval for production. “You ask why this is needed?” he said. “For 40 years, we have been addicted to foreign oil.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association was not enthusiastic. “EPA’s hasty attempts to speed introduction of E15 … could endanger the safety of American consumers, threatening their vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment with possibly severe damage,” association president Charles T. Drevna said. “This action is more about political science than real science because it is designed to protect the ethanol industry rather than the American people.”

The EPA said the Department of Energy did extensive testing of E15 in vehicles.

Our Take:
The people who brought us leaded gasoline are concerned about consumer safety? We think not.

Their portrayal of E15 as a rush job is a desperate attempt to hold onto valuable marketshare when prices for gasoline are poised to go through the roof. The only thing holding prices down will be production of domestic, renewable energy that can go in our gas tanks, and that’s ethanol.

Even all the increased oil production in the Dakotas and Wyoming, and the ramp up of the environmentally disastrous Canadian tar sands oil development will not put a damper on the price at the pump. Millions every year are joining the ranks of new car owners in China and India–the world’s most populous nations, also now among the most vigorously growing economies.

The 2001 vehicle rule from EPA is quite arbitrary–there’s no marked change in the fabrication of engines and fueling systems from before that date. The government simply couldn’t obtain a good supply of vehicles for its testing process that date from more than a decade ago and that had not been driven. Of course the pre-2001 vehicles actually on the road that would use E15 would probably have 100K-plus mileage, so why not test it in high mileage vehicles? A respected Detroit auto engineering firm reviewed all the testing that’s been done and vehicle production methods going back nearly two decades and found that any vehicle produced in 1994 or after can operate safely on E15.

Still, even with EPA’s arbitrary marker set down at 2001, we feel confident that more renewable energy can make it into the transportation market now.

As the production tops out at 15 billion gallons per year, E15 should be able to take up the increased supply of ethanol and put it to work and we can let the rest of the world buy a little more of that high priced, foreign-produced fossil energy.

Planning ahead for the overnight success of E15

(An excerpt from “Retailers Won’t Sell E15 Without Liability Protection” published by Convenience Store News)       

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved the required health effects and emissions testing of ethanol/gasoline blend E15, a number of barriers still must be overcome before petroleum retailers will sell the fuel for vehicles made 2001 and later, Ethanol Producer Magazine reported….

“Retailers must obtain the appropriate storage tanks and dispensers to sell the product, and this can be a very expensive investment,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of industry advocacy for NACS. “In order to justify such an investment, a certain level of consumer demand must exist. Given the opposition of the auto manufacturing industry to E15 and their concerns about the use of the fuel in current vehicles, it is very difficult to evaluate potential consumer demand.”

Lenard added that the organization is pursuing legislation to legally protect retailers who comply with an EPA-approved program in the event of a driver adding E15 to a non-approved vehicle.

Iowa may become the first state to permit E15 sales to 2001 and newer vehicles, due to E15’s existing presence in blender pumps for flex-fuel vehicles. The state also has a renewable fuel standard in place, and incentives are available to retailers who sell mid-level ethanol blends.

“We have been looking at state policies and have modified the necessary policies and requirements to be in a position to offer E15 fairly soon after it goes through the formal approval process and all of the registration and other requirements have been met,” said Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We have moved forward very quickly to put the pieces together here to enable retailers to put E15 in this market so consumers have additional fuel choices.”

Earlier this month, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association submitted a mitigation plan to the EPA that could serve as a model plan for retailers to follow to demonstrate regulatory compliance in the future, according to the report. However, CHS Inc., parent company to the Cenex brand of convenience stores, is just one fuel supplier that has refused to sell E15 until concerns about liability issues for vehicles and equipment, potential gasoline compatibility issues related to Reid Vapor Pressure levels, state and local fuel regulations are resolved.

Valero Energy Corp. also has no plans to offer E15 for sale. “Because E15 has not been approved for use in all engines and hasn’t received warranty protection from engine manufacturers, we can’t guarantee its performance and we won’t sell a product we can’t guarantee,” said Bill Day, executive director of media relations for Valero.

Our Take:
Big oil won’t sell higher blends of ethanol. The auto manufacturers won’t warrantee vehicles running on E15. Convenience stores want liability protection. Sounds like a recipe for status quo.

If America wants to end its oil addiction on its own terms (instead of waiting until $5 gas shuts down the economy), then the government needs to stop dithering, and the EPA needs to stop spinning its fantasy of an all-electric car future–and get busy with the solution that’s available now and is the most economical solution around.

If ethanol opponents thought 50 cents a gallon incentive for ethanol was a boondoggle (and look at Ethanol carrying on, despite the disappearance of that incentive) wait until they see how much of an incentive they’d have to give car owners to buy battery-electrics–$10,000 per. And then there’s building 50 new nuclear power plants or coal-fired power plants (what happens to carbon emissions then?) to keep up with the new electricity demand.

By comparison, the ethanol solution is economical and ready to go. Increasing ethanol production and adopting the technology (a hundred dollar part in a car’s fuel system), and the infrastructure (a blender pump in every station) and the legal framework (liability protection) will cost a lot less than the battery-powered electric scenario. And did we mention ten to 20 hours to recharge the car so it can go 50 or 100 miles?

Iowa is forging ahead and we applaud their leadership on the issue. Minnesota should pay close attention and help carry this ball into the end zone.

E15 won’t conk engines

(Jim Nussle, President of Growth Energy, responds to a letter to the editor in the Washington Times regarding E15)

What is perhaps most egregiously incorrect in “Corn-fueled politics” (Comment & Analysis) is the suggestion that E15 – 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline – is an untested fuel. That could not be farther from the truth.

There has been more testing of E15 than there has been of any other fuel additive in the history of the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency’s role is to determine whether E15 is a suitable fuel for today’s cars and emissions systems, and only after years of testing did the agency approve E15 for cars from 2001 and newer.

Furthermore, exhaustive data by the Department of Energy has proved that engine performance and durability do not suffer from ethanol blends such as E15. Doubters need look no further than Minnesota, a state that mandates the highest allowable blend of ethanol and yet is full of safely operating vehicles, snowmobiles, snowblowers, lawn mowers and countless outboard motors on their 10,000 lakes.

The U.S. ethanol industry is a cutting-edge industry that continues to get cleaner and more energy-efficient every day. But there are many who don’t know the facts and still accept a decades-old image and the misleading rumors as facts. Studies show that moving to higher-level blends, such as E15, will create jobs that can’t be outsourced, reduce harmful emissions in the air and help free us from our addiction to foreign oil. Every year our economy sends a balance of payments of more than $300 billion to foreign economies – many which are either unstable or hostile to the United States – for their oil. Wouldn’t that money be better invested in America, creating jobs?

Having been unable to dispute the overwhelming science in favor of E15, some critics are now turning to cheap scare tactics to turn American consumers against E15. But American motorists should not be fooled. If we truly want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and improve our environment, we must increase the use of clean, renewable fuels like ethanol in all of our engines.

JIM NUSSLE, President and chief operating officer, Growth Energy

Washington, DC

Our Take:
We wanted to pass Jim Nussle’s words along as a helpful response to any doubters you may encounter. Of course, Nussle refers to our own experience here in Minnesota, where E10 has been MN’s year-round, statewide gasoline blend since October 1997. E10 was the wintertime gasoline blend in the Twin Cities and other urban centers prior to 1997 as a tool to combat high levels of carbon monoxide, for which those communities were deemed to be in USEPA non-attainment status. We know that engines large and small have operated without difficulty on this fuel. As Nussle points out, E15 is now the most tested fuel in history and all indicators point to E15’s high quality as a fuel.

Study indicates 1994 and later models can use E15

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

While the EPA and Department of Energy have focused E15 studies on vehicles built in 2000 and later, the engineering firm Ricardo has undertaken a study and finds vehicles made between 1994 and 2000 will not be damaged through the use of E15.

Ricardo consults with all the major vehicle manufacturers and has offices worldwide, including locations in Detroit, Germany, Japan, China and India.

Engineer Rod Beazley presented the findings at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit.

EPA approvals for E15 use in vehicles manufactured in 2001 and later covers approximately 63 percent of the US light duty vehicle fleet. By looking into vehicles dating to 1994, Beazley’s work extends that to 88 percent of the vehicles on the road today. Were EPA to extend its waiver to these earlier models, it would thus make it much more practical for typical fueling stations to offer E15 to the driving public.

Beazley noted that six manufacturers sold the majority of vehicles in the US in the 1994-2000 timeframe: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Not only did Beazley conduct a thorough review of all the literature on materials compatibility testing, but examined any changes in equipment calibration over the entire period of 1988 to 2000, and pulled the fuel tanks and other fuel systems equipment off of cars from the 1994-2000 model years to examine the effect of E10 and calculate whether materials would be affected by increasing the ethanol level to 15 percent.

The key finding in the Ricardo study is that there is a very low likelihood of materials failure in these vehicles. Vehicles of this vintage are more likely to fail for a number of other reasons, but E15 would not contribute to any greater likelihood of failure.

Listen to a podcast of Rod Beazley presenting his findings at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit: