Understanding E15: the dangers of more ethanol for consumers and the environment
Today, the majority of U.S transportation fuel is comprised of approximately 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, a blend known as E10. However, the ethanol industry recently cleared all federal hurdles required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to sell a new fuel blend – E15 – at stations nationwide. E15, a mix of up to 15 percent ethanol with 85 percent gasoline, is now eligible for sale, although costs associated with infrastructure development and state regulations may keep it out of gas stations for the time being.
The latest science on E15 clarifies the fuel’s damaging impacts on the environment, public health, and consumers. Risks of increasing gasoline’s ethanol content by 50 percent – from E10 to E15 – include:
Public Health Concerns:
- More air pollutants (e.g. nitrous oxide and formaldehyde);
- Leaks from underground storage tanks;
- Drinking water contamination;
Exacerbating global food insecurity:
Costs to consumers:
- Decreased fuel economy;
- Damage to older cars and trucks, and to small and off-road engines;
- Voided engine warranties.
The effort to replace gasoline with ethanol is misguided and dangerous. Adding small, well-tested amounts of oxygenated additives like ethanol to transportation fuel can help gasoline burn more efficiently. However, the effort to replace traditional gasoline with ethanol, even in small quantities, will lead to negative consequences for the environment, the public, and consumers. E15 and corn ethanol cannot be part of our clean energy future.