EPA Delays Decision on E-15

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency Tuesday delayed a decision on expanding the allowable percentage of ethanol blended into regular gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent until next year.

In a letter to Growth Energy, the ethanol group requesting the blend, Gina McCarthy, assistant EPA administrator, said “we want to make sure we have all necessary science to make the right decision.”

She said the EPA thinks it will have the necessary information by the middle of next year.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was required by Dec. 1 to respond to a request by Growth Energy that the current 10 percent ethanol blend limit be expanded to 15 percent.

In the letter  the agency said that while not all tests have been completed, the results of two tests indicate that engines in newer cars likely can handle an ethanol blend higher than the current 10 percent limit. The agency said it will decide whether to raise the blending limit when more testing data are available.

EPA also announced that it has begun crafting labeling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.

Reaction from the ethanol industry was varied.

Matt Hartwig of RFA responded saying, “This delay by EPA threatens to paralyze the continued growth of America’s ethanol industry.”

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, president of Growth Energy, took a more positive view.

“We’re pleased,” Clark said. “It shows that we’re on the way to getting approval for E15 by next year. This is a way point toward a decision.”

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