The EPA approved the use of E15, a blend of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol. The previous limit was ten percent ethanol.
In October the EPA began permitting the use of E15 for cars and light trucks built in 2007. But at the time the EPA postponed a decision on cars from 2001 to 2006, until the Department of Energy had the chance to conduct additional testing. The EPA denied a request to allow E15 in vehicles from 2000 and earlier.
The EPA issued the new rules after considering a petition submitted in March 2009 by trade association Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers.
Growth Energy said the move could cut up to 8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the air in a year, the equivalent of taking 1.35 million vehicles off the roads.
“There are many more steps we can take toward achieving our energy security and environmental goals,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said. “We commend the EPA and we urge them to continue testing E15 for all vehicles, so that every American motorist has the opportunity to use a blend of fuel that is proven to be better for our economy, our security and our environment.”
But the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association pledged to continue a lawsuit against the EPA, and urged Obama to reverse the decision.
“EPA has acted without adequate scientific evidence to endanger the gasoline-powered engines used by millions of Americans in their vehicles and outdoor power equipment,” president Charles T. Drevna said. “Widespread use of 15 percent ethanol in gasoline could cause engine failures that could leave consumers stranded, injured or worse, and hit consumers with costly engine repairs. It’s the wrong decision, at the wrong time, made for the wrong reasons.”
Critics of increased ethanol limits, including oil companies, automakers and environmental groups, also say such moves could raise food prices and worsen air quality, Bloomberg reports.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 dictates that the amount of renewable fuel in the marketplace should be at least 13.95 gallons in 2011, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022.
The use of E15 could help stabilize consumer gasoline prices, Cnet said. Refiners receive a 45-cent tax credit for each gallon of ethanol they use, and could theoretically use this to offset rising oil prics.