Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., has introduced another bill that, if passed, could delay the introduction of E15 into the marketplace. The Clean Air Act currently requires the EPA to certify that a new fuel will not cause increased emissions or damage to a vehicle’s emission control system. H.R. 3431 would amend the CAA to also prohibit the EPA from granting a waiver for any fuel or fuel additive that would reduce fuel efficiency or cause or contribute to engine damage. In a statement, Sensenbrenner expressed concern that the EPA has certified E15 despite concerns from some that it could damage engines and reduce fuel efficiency.
“Consumers need to be able to trust the fuel at the pump,” he said. “As Americans everywhere try to get more from less, the EPA should not allow new fuels to come to market that will shorten engine life and force consumers to fuel up more frequently.”
The Renewable Fuels Association dismissed Sensenbrenner’s claims regarding the safety of E15 and said his suggestion that ethanol is an untrustworthy fuel is “flat out wrong.”
“Congressman Sensenbrenner is missing the point with his attempts to thwart America’s expanded use of domestically produced renewable fuels,” the group said in a statement. “Not only has EPA thoroughly tested E15—enough to make approximately 4,700 round trips from Washington to Milwaukee—it has carefully crafted a label and misfueling plan to ensure that consumers are properly and legally using increased levels of ethanol in gasoline. The RFA believes Americans are smart enough to follow directions.”
In October, Sensenbrenner introduced a separate bill, H.R. 3199, which would require independent scientific analysis to be conducted on the implications of E15 use in vehicles, marine and small engines, claiming that the U.S. DOE’s testing was limited in scope and did not consider evidence showing possible negative effects of the fuel on certain engines. The ethanol industry asserts that E15 has been subjected to more testing than any other fuel in history and has been proven not to harm the engines approved by the EPA to use the fuel.
H.R. 3431 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. H.R. 3199 was sent to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Neither committee has scheduled action on the bills at this time.