The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that there is insufficient test data to permit E15 to be used in model year ’00 and older light-duty motor vehicles. SEMA has consistently voiced concern that ethanol increases water formation, which can then create formic acid and corrode metals, plastics and rubber. While SEMA is pleased with the decision that older cars should not be fueled with E15, the association is disappointed that the EPA issued an E15 waiver for 2007 and newer vehicles. The agency is still gathering data for the ’01–’06 vehicles. The EPA’s ruling responds to a request from the ethanol industry to raise the ethanol content in gasoline from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15).
Consumers will not see E15 at the pump any time soon. The EPA must first approve regulations on how gas stations will label their pumps to avoid consumer misfueling. This will take months. Furthermore, there is no obligation that gasoline retailers market the fuel. In fact, some retailers oppose the fuel over concern that they could be held liable if E15 damages a vehicle. The gas stations and distributors may also need to invest in new storage tanks, hoses and other equipment.
SEMA will continue to oppose E15 until there are conclusive scientific findings that demonstrate that it will not harm automobiles of any age as a result of corrosion or other chemical incompatibilities. 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. Questions/comments may be directed to Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.