Strange bedfellows call on House panel to approve E15 study bill

Source: Amanda Peterka • E&E  • Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thirty-one groups yesterday called on a House panel to approve a Republican bill that would require U.S. EPA to commission a study on the effects of the ethanol blend E15 before the agency allows the fuel to be used on the road.

Their letter came ahead of a markup scheduled for this morning where the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will consider an amendment filed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that would greatly strip down the bill’s requirements.

H.R. 3199, introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), would require EPA to commission the 18-month study from the National Academy of Sciences prior to granting a final Clean Air Act waiver to gasoline that contains 15 percent ethanol. In January 2011, EPA proposed allowing E15 in cars from the past decade but has yet to complete final registration of the fuel blend.

The delay in the approval is necessary, Sensenbrenner said, because of the potential for E15 to damage cars (E&E Daily, Feb. 6).

Lofgren’s amendment would erase all mentions of the Clean Air Act, effectively reducing Sensenbrenner’s bill to just the study on E15. Like the original bill, the amendment requires the study to be a “comprehensive” look at the “short-term and long-term environmental, safety, durability and performance effects” of E15.

Committee ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) plans to support the amendment, a committee staffer said.

In their letter to Johnson and committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas), the groups called the bill “critical” for consumer and environmental protection and said more research is needed before EPA approves the fuel blend.

They represented a strange-bedfellow coalition that included the American Petroleum Institute and Friends of the Earth, along with auto trade groups and food industry organizations.

“While our organizations have divergent priorities, consumer protection is a common high priority and we are united in opposition to the premature introduction of E15,” they said. “Simply stated, this bill will halt EPA’s rush to introduce mid-level ethanol blends and ensure such fuel blends receive the proper scientific analysis before being put into the marketplace.”