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E15 study bill passes House committee

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology approved a bill this week from Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would require a comprehensive assessment of the scientific and technical research on the implications of fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol.

“I am pleased that the committee voted … to put science before politics. When it comes to a decision of this magnitude that would impact every American who owns a car, boat, or lawnmower we must base our decisions on sound science, not political expediency,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement.

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 19-7.

“The administration has fast-tracked E15 without considering that increasing the percentage of ethanol in our gasoline will cause premature engine failure, lower fuel efficiency and void vehicle warranties. In small engines, E15 is downright dangerous, and the EPA has no credible plan to stop misfueling. If ethanol is going to be the ‘fuel of the future,’ then there should be no problem conducting independent, comprehensive scientific analysis of its effect on American drivers,” Sensenbrenner added.

Thirty-one organizations offered support for the bill, including the National Marine Manufacturers Association and BoatUS.

The NMMA reported that the ethanol industry is facing a lengthy and uncertain schedule as it seeks to comply with a host of EPA rules and state requirements to allow distribution of gasoline containing E15 in the retail market.

The EPA, in information posted on its website late last month, did not say when it expects to complete the health and other testing needed to register the fuel, approve an industry misfueling mitigation plan and other steps necessary to allow the industry to sell the fuel — even after it granted the air act waivers, the first step in the lengthy approval process.

Ethanol industry sources say they are moving ahead to clear a host of regulatory and legal steps to ensure that the fuel is ready for sale and distribution once the court approves the EPA's waivers, the NMMA reported.

Lawsuits over the E15 waivers have been consolidated in the suit Grocery Manufacturers Association, et al., v. EPA.

Oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are scheduled for April 17.

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