When the EPA approved the use of gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol content (E15) for model year 2007 and newer vehicles in mid-October, critics immediately chimed in with a wave of concerns. Some argued that drivers would have a difficult time discerning which fuel to pump into their vehicles, while other critics were concerned that insufficient testing had been conducted by the EPA and urged retailers to limit the sale of E15 to flex fuel vehicles only. For nearly two years, the E15 battle has waged on, with supporters convinced that increased ethanol content would be suitable for all autos and opponents demanding more tests.
The E15 battle is far from over. The EPA's next move is determining whether or not the gasoline-ethanol blended fuel is acceptable for 2001 to 2006 model-year vehicles. The EPA's decision was initially expected to come in December, but due to some mechanical failures in test vehicles unrelated to the fueling system, the Energy Department will require more time to analyze E15 use in older vehicles and the EPA will be forced to push back its decision until January.
Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, is pleased with the decision to conduct thorough testing before arriving at a decision, stating:
We'll keep our eyes peeled for an official announcement in early 2011, but we suspect that no matter what the EPA decides, the E15 battle will continue to rage on.We are encouraged by EPA's commitment to accurate testing for 2001-2006 cars and pickup trucks, particularly given the failures are unrelated to the fuel being tested. We believe the fuel testing to date clearly demonstrates the efficacy of E15 as a motor fuel for all light-duty vehicles.