Ethanol Lobbyists Don’t Want to Be Labeled

Source: By Spencer Jakab, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Makers and owners of boats, motorcycles and other equipment that can be harmed by high ethanol blends want more prominent warning

Advocates for the higher ethanol blend called E15 are pushing to change or get rid of the labels altogether. Photo: National Marine Manufacturers Association

America led the world decades ago by sticking warning labels on cigarettes, but not without a fight from an influential industry.

In the latest scrap over a label, this one for ethanol, things might be going the other way. While corn-based fuel blended into almost all gasoline is mostly a wasteful boondoggle, using too much of it merely endangers the health of your boat, lawn mower or older car, not that of a human being.

But advocates for the higher blend called E15, denoting 15% ethanol content, as opposed to the more common E10, are pushing to change or get rid of the labels that appear at the pump altogether. Sen. Joni Ernst from corn-growing Iowa asked the Environmental Protection Agency “to remove the unnecessary labeling.”

Groups representing small engine makers and boaters are urging the opposite: An advocate introduced a bill last year to make the labels larger, contain the word “warning” and use a bolder red rather than orange.

The issue became more urgent after President Donald Trump tweeted in September that the EPA would allow existing pumps to also distribute E15, tagging corn belt Republican politicians. The EPA didn’t return a request for comment, but recent media reports say the agency is considering making unspecified changes to the labels.

Don’t count on any redesign making them more prominent.

Write to Spencer Jakab at