Gas Industry Asked To Halt E15
December 1, 2012

AAA Asking EPA, Gas Industry To Suspend E15 Fuel Sales

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

One prominent travel organization is calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to temporarily halt the sale of E15 gasoline, citing fears that the new ethanol-based fuel blend could damage motor vehicles.

In a statement released Friday, the American Automobile Association (AAA) warned that use of the recently approved gasoline, which can contain as much as 15 percent ethanol, could result in "a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage." As a result, they said that the EPA and the petroleum industry should halt the sale and distribution of E15 "until motorists are better protected."

According to Chicago Tribune reports, a AAA survey revealed that 95 percent of consumers were not aware of E15, or that it could damage cars and/or void their automobile's warranties.

The EPA approved the new gas blend in June, but only for use in cars manufactured after 2001. Multiple carmakers have issued E15-related advisories. Standard gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol, according to reports.

"Five manufacturers -- BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen -- have said that their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15," the Tribune said. "Seven other automakers -- Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo -- said E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner's manuals and may void warranty coverage."

"Only flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles were built to run on E15," they added. "The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles."

Frequent and prolonged use of the fuel in vehicles other than those for which it was specifically approved could result in engine wear and eventual failure, damage to the fuel system, and erroneous "check engine" lights, AAA said. Currently, only nine gas stations in the US sell E15, according to Bloomberg News. Seven of those stations are in Kansas, with the remaining two in Iowa and Nebraska.

"It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle," Robert Darbelnet, President and CEO of the automotive agency, told Gary Strauss of USA Today on Friday. "Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers."

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) CEO Bob Dinneen told Strauss that the 15 percent blend is safe for most vehicles released since 2001 and that his association believes that the EPA warning label is "sufficient" for notifying consumers of the potential risks associated with E15. However, an American Petroleum Institute (API) study found that gasoline containing between 15 and 20 percent ethanol was responsible for "issues" related to "engine durability."