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Battle looming over ethanol in fuel

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Battle looming over ethanol in fuel

Auto and engine makers challenge the EPA



NEW YORK -- A trade group that includes Ford and General Motors has joined forces with other vehicle and engine makers to sound a warning against the government's move to allow more ethanol to be blended with gasoline.

The blending for fuel sold at the pump -- 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline -- hasn't changed in years, but in October, the federal Environmental Protection Agency deemed a 15% proportion of ethanol permissible for newer cars and trucks.

The newly formed Engine Products Group has come out fighting the 15% waiver, saying the ruling could confuse consumers and damage older engines not designed for a heavier ethanol blend.

The group includes the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. It's facing off against another powerful lobby: corn and soybean growers and ethanol makers.

The EPA would require service stations to label their pumps clearly to prevent consumers from buying the wrong fuel.

Engine makers, however, say that the EPA ruling goes beyond what's allowed under the Clean Air Act, and that allowing greater amounts of ethanol could harm consumers.

The industry group filed a petition Monday with a U.S. appellate court in Washington, challenging the EPA's waiver for the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol -- marketed as E15 -- for 2007 model year and newer passenger cars and light trucks. In coming months, the EPA could extend its waiver to include cars and truck made after 2001.

Opponents argue that current off-road equipment "is not designed, built or warranted for mid-level blends, and consumers could encounter performance irregularities (and) increased heat and exhaust temperatures" if they use E15.

The group also complained that the EPA has failed to "put into place an effective, practical or enforceable mechanism to bifurcate the fuels market."

For their part, ethanol supporters, including the Renewable Fuels Association, said the EPA should have done more to support the rollout of E15.

"The only way to meet the nation's energy, economic and environmental goals as put forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard is to increase ethanol consumption," the group said.

Read more: Battle looming over ethanol in fuel | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101221/BUSINESS01/12210334/Battle-looming-over-ethanol-in-fuel#ixzz18kpujQzb

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Automakers Sue To Block Expanded Ethanol Usage

Makers claim renewable fuel could damage engines.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.21, 2010

Automakers join a lawsuit aimed at blocking the expanded use of ethanol in gasoline.

While most automakers have been encouraging motorists to use ethanol-based E85 fuels in their latest “FlexFuel” models, the industry has joined a lawsuit aiming to block a government-mandated increase in the use of ethanol for older vehicles.

The controversy surrounds a mid-October decision by the Environmental Protection Agency which aimed to increase the amount of ethanol used in gasoline from the current 10% to 15%. The EPA claims that this partial waiver – which only covers vehicles produced since the 2007 model-year is safe. But the auto industry and others contend that ethanol could damage the engines of vehicles that haven’t been specifically designed to use it.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. Those groups are now joined by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the Detroit Big Three, Toyota and eight other companies.

The EPA had actually hoped to head off a confrontations with its modified October ruling. After an extensive delay, the agency approved use of so-called E15 fuel – made up of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol – for relatively late-model cars and trucks, while further delaying a decision on still older products. The move would require refiners and their service stations to operate two sets of pumps, one for E15 blends, the other for the current E10 blend, which uses just 10% ethanol.

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But opponents contend that even that slight increase in the amount of the alcohol fuel – typically produced from crops like corn – can be corrosive and that ethanol blends burn hotter, which can further damage engines.

“The safe and reliable use of those products is paramount to us and our customers, and the legal action we take today is to protect those customers,” said Kris Kiser, a spokesman for the Engine Products Group, an umbrella organization representing the various participants in the suit to block the EPA mandate.

The involvement of the auto industry in the lawsuit might seem confusing to some consumers. Many makers now offer FlexFuel products in their fleets, capable of running on E85, which uses 85% ethanol and only 15% gasoline. That now accounts for a majority of the products rolling off Detroit’s assembly lines.

General Motors, in particular, has been an avid proponent of the use of E85, even launching a campaign called “Drive Yellow” to promote the alternative fuel. And it has teamed up with producers of cellulosic ethanol, a means of making the alcohol by using waste rather than food stocks.

But industry representatives stress that FlexFuel products require extensive modifications, such as the use of corrosion-resistant stainless steel fuel lines, and that their engines have either been updated or at least tested to confirm they can handle the fuel.

Proponents of E15 usage insist the modest increase won’t harm even vehicles older than those the EPA’s October mandate covered.

“EPA could have avoided this kind of market confusion by following all the science to its logical conclusion and allowing the use of E15 for all cars and light duty pickup trucks,” asserts the Renewable Fuels Association.

Ethanol producers – which are backed, in turn, by powerful farm lobbies — have had the upper hand in Congress, which suggests environmental regulators were under pressure to approve a switch to E15. Federal lawmakers just last week approved an extension of a $0.45 a gallon tax credit for producers, which is designed to offset the higher cost of ethanol.

Congress earlier set its own mandate, demanding the use of at least 11 billion gallons of ethanol annually by 2010, and 36 billion gallons by 2022. The nation will fall short of the current target and likely cannot meet later numbers without boosting the amount of ethanol used in gasoline blends.



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It's time for the government to stop subsidizing corn and start subsidizing sugar-based and waste-based ethanol, both of which are easier to produce than corn-based ethanol, while encouranging automakers to make vehicles from the ground up to run on ethanol, so the fuel's full potential can be realized.


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Report: Detroit carmakers join lawsuit against EPA looking to overturn E15 approval

by Jeff Glucker (RSS feed) on Dec 21st 2010 at 11:31AM

The fight against E15 is heating up as a group of automakers have joined together to file a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to make available higher blends of ethanol for newer vehicles.

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler represent Detroit as part of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which also includes Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, BMW, Toyota, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo. The Auto Alliance is now part of a lawsuit that includes the International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

The groups are looking to overturn the EPA's decision to grant a partial waiver for E15. Besides the environmental and possible vehicular effects that E15 can cause, the idea that the EPA can even grant a partial waiver is also being questioned. Thanks for the tip, Jesse!



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