What’s The Fuss Over E15?

Big Oil Says Cars Shouldn't Run Off of Highly Combustible Liquid Fuels...

For decades, the oil industry has done just about anything to protect its monopolistic control of the motor fuel marketplace. When the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 forced gasoline refiners to utilize 2% oxygen (by weight) to improve combustion efficiency and emissions, oil companies avoided the use of ethanol (the cheapest and safest way to add oxygen) with Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). A decade of MTBE use left tens of thousands of drinking water wells across the country polluted with a turpentine smelling, toxic gasoline additive; Exxon just settled this spring with New Hampshire for hundreds of millions of dollars for MTBE pollution.

MTBE’s failures proved to be an opportunity for ethanol. 10 percent of nearly every gallon of gasoline in the United States is now ethanol. Today’s ethanol is made from corn and Brazilian sugarcane, but a new generation of ethanol producers is just breaking through at commercial scale (see hyperlink). Many of these advanced ethanol fuels reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent or more.

The only problem for the advanced ethanol industry is their market share is capped at 10 percent of the blend. With the other 90 percent of the blend inexplicably protected for petroleum, the ethanol industry petitioned EPA to allow the use of E15 – an optional blend for the consumer containing up to 15% ethanol. EPA tested more than 100 cars for more than 100,000 miles, and found absolutely no emissions or vehicle compatibility problems with E15 or E20.

Enter the oil industry and AAA. The oil industry decided to do its own testing, with 3 cars hand-picked by researchers being paid by the American Petroleum Institute (API). One of the cars had problems for reasons other than ethanol, but that did not stop API and AAA from launching a PR campaign and spreading misinformation about E15 in Washington DC. Why? Scare investors away from advanced ethanol and protect their monopoly.

AAA is a key piece of the puzzle. They are the ones who are putting the fear into politicians that voters will be stranded on the side of the road if they use E15. It’s all nonsense. E15 is the most tested fuel in history. EPA and DOE have both publicly discredited the API/AAA study. The Auto Channel has called out AAA publicly. We at Better World Club have seen this all before.

Remember, E15 is an optional fuel. Ethanol is 50-60 cents per gallon cheaper at the pump without all the subsidies that Big Oil receives. All these exciting, new advanced ethanol companies need market access to succeed.

We at the Better World Club want you to support the industries you believe in, the industries and that support what you value.  Lots of people fall prey to the slur of fearful and fact-less words of pundits and oil company supporter.  You are not one of them.  Think critically.  If your vehicle can use E15, and you recognize the value of newer generations of ethanol, then show the markets what you want: cleaner, renewable fuels.  E15 is one of those great options you can support with the presidents in your purse/wallet. 

Got an opinion you want to share?  Tell the people making decisions:



On The Fence


Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)


Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)


Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)  202-225-5431

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) 202-225-3976

Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) 202-225-3761

Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) 202-225-4115


Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) 202-225-3115

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) 202-224-6253



Senator David Vitter (R-LA)


Kicking Asphalt

This article is from Better World Club's monthly eNewsletter, Kicking Asphalt. To receive Kicking Asphalt in your inbox, subscribe today!

Facebook   |   reddit   |   Delicious   |   Digg

1% Donated to the Environment
1% Donated to the Environment