Court Refuses to Overturn Decision Allowing Sale of E15 Gas

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

Last August, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to permit the sale of 15% ethanol (E15) content in gasoline for ’01 and newer model-year cars and light trucks. The full eight-judge panel has now rejected a petition to reconsider that decision. The court found that the groups bringing the lawsuit, which included trade associations representing manufacturers of cars, boats and power equipment, along with the petroleum and food industries, lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. 

SEMA opposes E15 based on scientific evidence that it causes corrosion with incompatible parts. Ethanol increases water formation, which can then create formic acid and corrode metals, plastics and rubber. In light of the Court’s decision, SEMA is turning to the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to ban the sale of E15.

“The Court’s decision is disappointing for the millions of motorists who own older cars or those with high-performance specialty parts,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs. “These vehicles and parts are threatened with destruction by E15’s chemical properties. The EPA acknowledged the threat but, beyond minimal labeling requirements, took no additional steps to ensure that incompatible vehicles and engines were not misfueled with E15.”

SEMA is seeking passage of federal legislation that would prevent the EPA from introducing E15 into the marketplace until the National Academies has conducted a study on how gasoline blended with 15% to 20% ethanol may impact gas-powered vehicles. The analysis would consider a variety of issues, including tailpipe emissions, materials compatibility and fuel efficiency. 

SEMA represents thousands of companies that market products for these vehicles and, through its SEMA Action Network, millions of enthusiasts who buy and operate these automobiles. 

Contact: Stuart Gosswein at or 202-783-6007, ext. 30.