Oil industry poll finds consumers concerned about ethanol

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013

The majority of registered voters are concerned that ethanol will damage car engines and lead to increased consumer prices for groceries, according to a poll released today by the American Petroleum Institute.

Seventy-seven percent of interviewed voters said they were concerned that putting a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline — as opposed to the 10 percent ethanol level that is in most gasoline today — could hurt their vehicles. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they were concerned that using more corn for ethanol production could increase the price of food.

The oil trade group said the poll showed the need for U.S. EPA to reduce the amount of ethanol that’s required to be used in motor fuel next year under the renewable fuel standard and for Congress to repeal the mandate altogether.

“The public gets it,” Bob Greco, director of downstream activities for the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters today. “Our job is to make sure Congress and the president get it and that they listen to the American people.”

Harris Interactive conducted the poll Sept. 19 to 23 for the oil trade group. The telephone poll of 1,034 registered voters has a 3-point margin of error. Of the respondents, 33 percent were Democratic, 28 percent were Republican and 21 percent were independent voters.

Before asking about concerns, the API poll informed respondents that a recent study found that higher percentages of ethanol in gasoline could cause severe damage to car engines and fuel system components. The study by the Coordinating Research Council, an oil- and auto-funded research group, contradicts the studies conducted by the Department of Energy that EPA relied on to approve E15 for use in vehicles of model year 2001 and newer.

A competing poll two weeks ago by a coalition of biofuel supporters found that 82 percent of Americans supported gas stations offering gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, while 76 percent of Americans want access to even higher ethanol blends.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans understand that having options when you fill up at the gas station is a good thing,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said then. “They have spoken loud and clear that they want access to clean, homegrown renewable fuel.”