When AAA came out against E15, the ethanol industry was quick to point out the fallacies in their statement.
That’s just plain untrue.
These are the words you would have heard from ethanol advocates and industry experts alike when they first saw the American Automobile Association (AAA) claim against E15.
The AAA – a collection of automobile clubs with more than 53 million members – released a statement in November that implied that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needed to reevaluate its approval of E15 into the marketplace. The statement was partially based on what one governmental agency called a flawed study that the oil industry had helped paid for and on an AAA survey, the results of which concluded that “a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage.”
“I am surprised to see an organization so concerned with fuel prices attack a source of American renewable energy that is providing consumers a choice and most importantly, savings at the pump,” said Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Tom Buis.
In June of 2012, EPA officials approved E15 – a blend of 15 percent ethanol per gallon of gasoline – for sale to consumers with vehicles newer than 2001. That accounts for more than 54 percent of all cars and light-duty trucks on the road today.
And each one of those drivers has the right to fill up with one of the cleanest fuel sources available, proponents say.
“Obviously they are doing a disservice to their members without getting all the facts – and the fact is, E15 is the most tested fuel in history,” said POET Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Breukelman. “It’s shown to work. The truth is the truth – and we have the luxury of that being on our side.”
In 2009, Growth Energy, the public policy organization made up of ethanol producers and supporters, submitted the Green Jobs Waiver to the EPA to increase the amount of ethanol in the nation’s motor fuel supply from 10 to 15 percent. By raising that “blend wall,” the waiver accelerates the use of renewable fuel, increases U.S. energy security, creates U.S. jobs, and improves the environment by displacing conventional gasoline with low-carbon ethanol.
“The EPA did over 6 million miles of testing,” Breukelman said. “The study (the AAA) refers to was heavily criticized by the U.S. Department of Energy on its validity.”
That study, released by the oil and auto industries in May of 2012, has been roundly criticized by DOE staffers. The study claims mechanical damage and suggests degraded engine performance, emissions and durability on conventional vehicles from the use of E15 or E20 fuel.
“We believe the study is significantly flawed,” wrote Patrick B. Davis, the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program Manager. “We believe the choice of test engines, test cycle, limited fuel selection, and failure criteria of the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) program resulted in unreliable and incomplete data, which severely limits the utility of the study.”
In fact, the DOE’s own tests used 86 vehicles that were driven up to 120,000 miles each on E10, E15 and E20 blends. Those tests concluded that “no statistically significant loss of vehicle performance (emissions, fuel economy, and maintenance issues) attributable to the use of E15 fuel compared to straight gasoline.”
“When it comes to real facts, the verdict is in – E15 performs,” Buis said. “If that is not enough, just ask NASCAR drivers who rely on Sunoco® Green E15 every week on some of the most rigorous and demanding driving conditions. At nearly 4 million miles, their drivers noted only an increase in horsepower and performance.”
Since the 2011 racing season, every NASCAR driver – whether driving a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge or Toyota – has raced with clean, green E15 in their tanks.
“RCR’s transition to Sunoco Green E15 was seamless,” said NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, whose stable of drivers include Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Jeff Burton and Austin Dillon. “In fact, we’re even seeing some increases in horsepower this year. And as an owner, it’s nice to know that the fuel your cars are burning is made from American-grown corn.”
Bottom-line, E15 is not only safe for all those people who own a vehicle made after 2001 – but federal studies and the rigors of testing on NASCAR tracks across the country prove that E15 is good for drivers, and good for America.
“This is a fuel that you can feel good about putting into your car,” Breukelman said. “It’s good for your car. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the national economy.”
In response to the comments from AAA, a few ethanol proponents had some comments of their own. And they’re making their voices heard:
I have been a member of AAA since 1985. I have decided not to renew my membership. The reason for not renewing is because of your misguided and erroneous position on the use of E-15. I can’t imagine why you would take such a position without doing proper research to get the correct information.
E-15 has been tested by the DOE more than any fuel in history. E-10 has reduced imports of foreign oil and lowered the cost of gasoline for the consumer. At the same time it has reduced the amount of harmful emissions and created thousands of jobs. E-15 will only increase these economic and environmental benefits.I have personally used an E-30 blend in my non flex fuel vehicle for the last 3 years without and adverse effects and without any decline in my mpg.
I would respectfully request that you revisit your decision and make a proper judgment based upon facts and not erroneous information provided by the oil companies.
Originally printed in the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD:
AAA ignored more than 6 million miles of data and misled drivers regarding the safety of renewable fuel for engines in its recent call to suspend use of E15 (15 percent ethanol fuel).
The fact is, there has been more independent testing of E15 than any other fuel additive, and both the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency have confirmed it for use in vehicles 2001 and newer. I know it’s safe because I’ve used higher ethanol blends in a non-flex fuel vehicle for years. It hasn’t caused problems, and it has saved me money.
AAA pointed to an oil industry-funded study that was noted for being “significantly flawed” by the Energy Department. According to that study, one-third of the engines tested with straight gasoline (no ethanol) failed. According to those results, we should stop using regular gasoline until further research confirms its safety.
E15 is reliable, it’s more affordable than many other blends and it supports a South Dakota-made product that provides good jobs and bolsters our ag economy. AAA should be ashamed for trying to mislead its members and the public, and I for one am pulling my membership from that organization.
- Greg Breukelman
POET Sr. Vice President of Communications