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EPA backs ethanol increase

The US Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed increased used of ethanol-blended fuel in passenger cars.

The decision comes despite significant opposition from auto manufacturers, as previously reported in the OATS LRC, with the agency deciding that it is safe for fuels with up to 15% ethanol to be used in passenger cars built since 2007.

The fuel, known as E15, underwent stringent testing according to the EPA and the data appears to show no harm being caused to emmisions control equipment, such as catalytic converters, in new cars and light trucks.  However, the EPA's findings were questioned by, amongst others, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, which believes the increase in the corn-based additive could cause engine failures and lead to large repair bills.

The API also criticised the decision, calling it a "rush to judgement", stating that comprehensive testing by the motor and oil industry is not yet complete.

The announcement could mean as much as 60% of the US domestic car fleet could soon be using the fuel and will move towards a target set by US Congress of at least 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels to be mixed into transportation fuel by 2022.  This would significantly raise the volume from just 9 billion gallons in 2008.

Tags: Environment and Regulatory watch, N America

Published 24th January, 2011

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