The Obama administration has officially given the green light to allowing higher blends of ethanol to be used fuel American cars and trucks.

As last week ended, the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15, a blend of fuel that is made of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent corn-based ethanol to be used in 60 percent of American cars and trucks.

The decision comes months after the EPA initially ruled that it was safe for cars made during and after the 2007 model year to run on the fuel. That decision, made in October of 2010, essentially trumped the current ethanol limit for fuels which, until this recent announcement, stood at 10 percent.

Of course this decision, and the one made back in October, aren’t exactly welcomed by several of the usual suspects who have powerful lobbying lawyers inside the Beltway. The American Petroleum Institute, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and a handful of farm and food lobbies have already sued the EPA over their initial ruling. This latest decision by the EPA is still subject to what happens with that lawsuit.

The rationale for the lawsuit, if you trust those aforementioned groups, comes in several forms: safety, unreliability and even confusion for consumers at the pump.

Charles Drevna, who heads the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, was quoted in Politico saying that the group has no intentions of pulling his lawsuit.“Widespread use of 15 percent ethanol in gasoline could cause engine failures that could leave consumers stranded, injured or worse, and hit consumers with costly engine repairs.”
Not surprisingly, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s statements don’t exactly match up with those from the fossil-fuel lobbyist. “Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks,” said Jackson in a statement after her announcement.
Beyond the lawsuit there is also the matter of Congress going along with this decision. At a glance, this may be an interesting policy issue to track as anyone who has driven across our great country knows there is a lot of corn here and there are surely a lot of representatives and senators from both parties who reside in heavy corn states and districts. This may be a chance to actually get some Republicans and Democrats to be on the same side on this issue. But this is Washington, so you never know what side of that issue they will decide to be on.
New ethanol blend one step closer to getting in your tank
The EPA has moved one step closer to allowing a higher blend of alternative fuel in your cars, but the usual suspects aren't on board.