The EPA’s nonsensical solutions on ethanol


“It is absolutely absurd,” NMMA legislative director Jim Currie told the National Marine Trades Council when describing EPA’s recent approval of a model E15 “Misfueling Mitigation Plan” developed by the so-called Renewable Fuels Association.

Seems the RFA (ethanol producers) has submitted a plan they say will prevent misfueling when dispensing E15 . . . and EPA has approved it.

The RFA proposed dispensing E15 from the same pump, hose and nozzle as E10. Now, even a mental midget can see there would be some E15 left in the hose after a consumer’s purchase of E15. That will then mix with the E10 being dispensed by the next customer, resulting in an ethanol concentration higher than E10 going into engines not approved for E15 use. That’s a definite problem, right?

Oh, but wait a minute, claimed RFA, we’ve got the solution: All retailers using a single hose and nozzle to sell both E10 and E15 will simply require every purchaser of E10 to buy no less than four gallons so that any residual E15 has a minimum impact on the E10 dispensed. And, say, for even more effect, let’s label every E10-E15 nozzle as requiring a minimum purchase of four gallons to “avoid a violation of federal law.”

“EPA agrees that this approach is suitable for dispensing E15,” wrote Margo T. Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation & Air Quality. What are they thinking? Obviously not of the millions of Americans who, for example, purchase a gallon or two in portable cans for lawn mowers, chainsaws, ATVs, motorcycles, outboard kickers and many more. The EPA’s approval is so farcical it should give Jay Leno a year’s supply of punch lines.

The RFA also recommended the same procedure for dispensing even higher ethanol blends (E20, E30, E50 and E85). The EPA has denied that request for now, but it’s easy to see where a future push will be.

If there’s any doubt that the EPA is off the charts for ethanol, check this out. The EPA has just denied urgent pleas from the governors of 10 states to waive the production requirements for corn-based ethanol. The requests even included members of Congress, farm groups, environmental organizations and other industries. They specifically cited poultry, hog and cattle farmers that have faced huge jumps in corn-based feed costs as the nation’s corn supply, seriously diminished this year by the drought, is still being diverted to fuel instead of food.

“We recognize that this year’s drought has created hardship in some sectors of the economy,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Air & Radiation (they have an office for everything) . . . “and waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard will have little, if any, impact.” Apparently she doesn’t go food shopping these days.

Clearly, the EPA will approve just about anything to keep corn farmers from getting their bib overalls in a wad. I see two things in this: (1) The NMMA’s decision to continue to pursue relief for the marine industry via the courts looms more important than ever; and (2) The EPA’s pandering to ethanol producers continues to alienate more and more industries and a powerful movement to get Congress to repeal the Renewal Fuel Standards (the best ultimate solution) could be getting closer.


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