Republican plans Senate bill to put brakes on E15 approval

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker this week plans to introduce a Senate bill targeting U.S. EPA’s decision to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent, according to a spokesman for the senator.

An oil industry source said the legislation is expected to freeze the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline at 10 percent and prohibit the agency from approving E15 going forward. Wicker spokesman Rick Curtsinger didn’t provide additional details about the bill.

The measure would essentially nullify EPA decisions last year to provide partial waivers from the Clean Air Act for E15. Those waivers allow cars with model years 2001 and newer to use the fuel, which has been slow to make a dent in the marketplace. Gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol is currently the norm.

Oil industry groups, automakers, food producers and environmental groups have complained about EPA’s decision to expand the market for ethanol, calling the decision premature and warning that E15 has been shown to damage car engines. There are also widespread concerns that the fuel will be used in vehicles not approved for its use, such as motorcycles and boats.

The ethanol industry has disputed those claims, pointing to extensive testing by EPA and the Department of Energy before the fuel’s approval.

In the last Congress, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) led efforts to slow the introduction of E15; the Wicker bill would represent the first Senate legislation to limit its use.