EPA Decision to Raise Ethanol Blend in Gasoline Condemned From Diverse Quarters
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Announcement bucks scientific evidence on engine safety, pollution impacts
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite opposition from a broad coalition of public interest, consumer and industry groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it will raise the maximum ratio of ethanol that can be blended into consumer gasoline to 15 percent — known as “E15.” The current ratio is capped at 10 percent and referred to as “E10.”
“The EPA’s decision is premature and irresponsible,” responded Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth. “While today’s ruling limits E15 to use in newer engines for the time being, the agency has yet to conclude comprehensive scientific testing on the long-term engine safety and pollution impacts of increased ethanol in gasoline — period.”
Friends of the Earth called on the EPA to produce a complete accounting of the air pollution that will be caused by the new ethanol-gasoline blend, pointing out that the EPA has failed to meet consumer and environmental protections embedded in the Clean Air Act that require significant testing before a new fuel is introduced in the marketplace.
“The only thing ‘green’ about ethanol is the color of the cash subsidies handed to it by Congress,” added McMahon. “With this announcement, the Obama administration is bucking its own scientific findings in favor of maintaining President Bush’s failed energy policies, which increased the consumption of bad biofuels like ethanol, instead of promoting truly sustainable alternatives.”
Increased blends of ethanol in gasoline could increase emissions of toxic air pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide, when burned in engines not built to withstand more ethanol. This danger applies to the vast majority of engines currently in service, from cars to boats to lawnmowers.
Ethanol results in more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, according to the EPA’s own scientific analysis, which was included in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) Regulatory Impact Analysis released in February 2010. Earlier this year, Friends of the Earth joined the Clean Air Task Force in a suit against the EPA for its failure to appropriately regulate the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels.
The production of ethanol also has detrimental effects on human and environmental health. The production of biofuels feed stocks, like corn for ethanol, takes land away from food production and encroaches on natural ecosystems. Large-scale agricultural production of corn for ethanol often involves massive inputs of fertilizer, requires large quantities of water, contributes to soil erosion, and produces deadly run-off of pollution into freshwater sources — as illustrated by the Gulf of Mexico’s “Dead Zone.”
Friends of the Earth advocates better approaches to addressing fuel demands, including the use of more efficient vehicles, smart zoning and transportation plans that reduce the need for driving, and the transition to clean energy electricity as a vehicle fuel source.
For more information on corn ethanol and other harmful biofuels, visit /energy/biofuels.
Friends of the Earth and our network of grassroots groups in 77 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to global warming, protecting people from toxic and new, potentially harmful technologies, and promoting smarter, low-pollution transportation alternatives.