US decision on ethanol blend put off until fall

Jun 18, 2010 By MARY CLARE JALONICK and MATTHEW DALY , Associated Press Writers

(AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency says it will wait until this fall to decide whether U.S. car engines can handle higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline.

The agency had been expected to decide by this month whether to increase the maximum blend from 10 to 15 percent.

The EPA said Thursday that initial tests "look good" and should be completed by the end of September. A decision will come after the completes the testing of the higher blend on vehicles built after 2007.

The ethanol industry has maintained that there is sufficient evidence to show that a 15 percent ethanol blend in will not harm the performance of car engines. But the refining industry, small engine manufacturers and some environmental groups have argued against an increase.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the announcement is good news for ethanol producers and that the EPA is taking "a significant step forward" by discussing their timeline.

"With this green light, USDA is surging ahead on our work to provide support to feedstock producers, refiners and infrastructure installers, such as blender pumps, to ensure that all the pieces of the ethanol supply chain are ready to supply the market demand," Vilsack said.

The EPA has indicated in the past that it will raise the blend, saying a congressional mandate for increased ethanol use can't be achieved without allowing higher blends of the , most of which comes from corn. Congress has required refiners to blend 12.9 billion gallons (50 billion liters) of biofuels in 2010, of which 12 billion gallons would be ethanol. The mandate soars to 36 billion gallons (135 billion liters), mostly ethanol, by 2022.

Ethanol groups immediately expressed disappointment with the delay. Tom Buis, president of Growth Energy, the ethanol group that filed the original petition for the increase, used the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an argument in a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday.

"With fossil fuels getting dirtier, costlier and riskier to extract, as we are witnessing with the epic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, now is the time we should move on expanding the production and consumption of clean, renewable fuels like ethanol," he said.

The Renewable Fuels Association, another industry group, criticized the decision to give priority to testing cars manufactured since 2007. The EPA said it is also testing some vehicles built before 2007 but will make a decision after the newer vehicle testing is completed.

The group also argued that the EPA should at least increase the blend to 12 percent in the interim.

Opponents to increasing the blend ceiling include manufactures of smaller engines - used in everything from lawn mowers to boats - because they say those engines are not designed for higher concentrations of the renewable fuel.

This is the second time the EPA has announced a delay of its decision on the blend. The agency pushed the decision to June last December, saying further testing was needed.

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Royale
5 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2010
What about my 96 civic? Can that handle it? Wonderful idea EPA, forget electric, lets take away more of our food supply and put it into CO2 generating machines. And don't pull that "Well the corn absorbs CO2 so it's even." That's crap, and you all know it. Just transporting it alone gives the CO2 generation a head above the remediation.
Shootist
3 / 5 (4) Jun 18, 2010
Not to mention it costs more energy (petroleum) to produce and transport ethanol than burning the ethanol releases.

At 1/2 the BTUs per pound of gasoline you have to burn twice as much to go as far.

And using food to produce fuel in an era where people are hungry . . . at the minimum ethanol will put upward price pressure on corn. You are asking for food riots (which have already happened).

Ethanol is a fool's fuel.
Royale
5 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2010
Yea, seriously. We can't enriched uranium, I say we go that route and electric vehicles until hydrogen and fusion really come out.
winthrom
4 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2010
I would feel better if the sillage from cornfields was used to make methanol and then converted to gasoline (methanol to gasoline = MTG). MTG uses methanol that is fairly easy to make. It used to be called wood alcohol. The corn then is food, and the sillage leftovers are gasoline feedstock. For the farmer that is a win-win. For the hungry it is win-win. For agrabusiness it is win-win. Someone should wake these people up.
xstos
Jun 19, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Royale
not rated yet Jun 21, 2010
According to physorg, they're working on it, right? Enzymes and the like to break it down better? Or did I see that on discovery/science channel? Maybe both.
ricarguy
1 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2010
1) Ethanol is in part the latest version of farm subsidies.
2) Ethanol production in most recent cases does return more energy than it consumes, but it will always be a modest return compared to fossil fuels which mother nature has already concentrated and preprocessed for us.
3) Engines can be optimized for ethanol that are a step more efficient than gasoline and compete pretty well against diesel. Older engines will operate at a disadvantage and some that were not designed for ethanol blends at all my have durability issues, especially when there was any water contamination in the fuel.
Conclusion: Ethanol is not a good but may be a fair interim or supplemental solution and with today's technology can not itself begin to accommodate America's current standard of living. But that's OK with the administration actively working to roll back American exceptionalism into world-average mediocrity-what progressives call "social justice".