NAFA Urges EPA To Reconsider E15 Waiver Decision

August 14, 2011

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The NAFA Fleet Management Association disputes the Environmental Protection Agency's two partial waivers under the Clean Air Act that allow E15 to be sold for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.

In January this year, the EPA granted waivers for E15 fuel for cars and light trucks for model years 2001-06. In October 2010, the EPA approved a waiver allowing (not requiring) E15 to be sold for use in model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. The EPA based its waiver decisions on testing and analysis showing E15 (a blend of 15% ethanol with 85% gasoline) will not harm emissions control equipment in these vehicles, or damage their ability to operate. Previously the amount of ethanol was limited to no more than 10%.

Ethanol supporters say it reduces emissions and allows use of a home-grown fuel instead of imported oil.

NAFA is one of several groups that disagree.

In a letter sent to Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, NAFA urged the agency to reconsider the waiver. NAFA is concerned that the use of E15 may cause significant damage to fleet vehicles and lead to substantial costs throughout the industry.

"The waiver for E15 jeopardizes the billions of dollars that fleets have invested in vehicles and engines used to carry out the mission of private and public sector fleets throughout the country," wrote NAFA's Executive Director Phil Russo.

Fleet managers, who are a major consumer of vehicles and engines, are concerned with the potential impact for both light-duty engines as well as non-covered engines including engine failure, corrosion, materials incompatibility, catalyst degradation, water-in-fuel and phase separation, higher exhaust temperatures, increased pollution emissions, and reduced useful life of the vehicle or engine.

A waiver is one action needed from federal, state and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends, the EPA said. The agency said it is developing requirements to ensure E15 blends are properly labeled at the gas pump to prevent accidental fueling of vehicles, engines and equipment not approved for the ethanol blend.

NAFA hasn't been the only group to oppose the ethanol waivers.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has also asked the EPA to reconsider the waiver. In his letter, Sensenbrenner publicly released the responses from several auto manufacturers regarding the consequences of E15 on vehicle engines, fuel economy, and warranties.

A group of U.S. food industry associations filed suit over the approval of E15 ethanol in new cars, saying it will force up grocery prices.

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