It Doesn’t Work? Then Let’s Try More of It.


Well, whaddaya know? A coalition of ethanol producers, petroleum groups, and others are scrambling for legislation that would allow an even higher mix of a fuel that would have been belly up long ago without the support of your tax dollars. Just as December’s save-the-world meeting in Copenhagen will attempt to try even more of the things that made the Kyoto Protocol a failure, this coalition is lobbying for a law that will use even more of a fuel that consumers don’t want, that burns a critical food source, requires an inordinate amount of water, and that quite possibly adds more carbon to the air, when all is said and done (but, wait, no worries, Copenhagen will deal with that). Environmental NewsStand has the story:, August 27, 2009 — Petroleum retailers and marketers are rushing to reach an accord with refiners and the biofuels industry on a strategy to quickly pass legislation to address liability and other concerns stemming from EPA’s anticipated approval by year’s end of the biofuels industry’s bid to allow sales of ethanol blends above 10 percent (E10).

The effort comes as EPA’s underground storage tank (UST) office is launching a study with the Department of Energy (DOE) on corrosion and other possible adverse impacts of E15 and other higher fuel blends on existing fuel tanks and gasoline pumps.

These impacts are a key concern for petroleum retailers who want assurances the existing infrastructure is sound enough to withstand the higher blends, as well as a legislative fix to allow them to sell higher ethanol blends, because their existing tanks cannot win certification. They also want to be absolved of liability if higher blends damage engines not designed to run on fuel above E10.

EPA faces a Dec. 1 legal deadline for acting on the biofuels group Growth Energy’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver to raise the ethanol cap from E10 to E15 in conventional gasoline. But EPA cannot consider the retail roadblocks in the waiver decision, as it is limited by Clean Air Act requirements to only consider the new fuel’s impact on an emissions control device.

As a result, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NASC) and Petroleum Marketers of America Association (PMAA) are trying to find consensus with refiners and the biofuels industry on the best legislative path forward to address their concerns that they may face liability for damage to engines and fuel infrastructure from the higher blends.

However, the coalition seeking agreement does not include engine or automakers, who are expected to continue to oppose sale of higher blends over concerns the new fuels would damage their engines and leave them liable to injury suits. Their opposition could be a major stumbling block to passing retail liability relief legislation.

NASC and PMAA recently released a draft legislative proposal — that they named the “Renewable Fuels Modernization Act” — to provide liability relief for selling E15 with existing equipment that would also direct EPA to issue pump labeling rules to prevent misfueling.

The two groups have since won support for the proposal from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and are trying to reach an accord with the ethanol industry with the hope that a broad coalition will spur Congress to quickly pass legislation, sources say. An API source says the group hopes the proposal gains traction. However, NASC and PMAA sources say they are not wedded to their plan and are seeking ethanol industry suggestions on addressing retail barriers to selling E15


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