Pols Ask GAO To Study E15 Impact

Two U.S. congressmen have asked the Government Accountability Office  to study the impact of boosting the amount of ethanol that is blended into U.S. gasoline supplies following a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statement that it may approve next summer an industry proposal to increase the volume of ethanol in gasoline by 50%—by going from 10% […]

Two U.S. congressmen have asked the Government Accountability Office  to study the impact of boosting the amount of ethanol that is blended into U.S. gasoline supplies following a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statement that it may approve next summer an industry proposal to increase the volume of ethanol in gasoline by 50%—by going from 10% to 15% ethanol (E15).

Representatives Joe Barton of Texas and Greg Walden of Oregon, both Republicans who requested the GAO study, said there are concerns that automakers’ warranties may be voided if gasoline with more than 10% ethanol is used and that higher ethanol blends could also damage engines in lawnmowers, boats, chain saws and small tractors.

“Congress may consider whether the federal government should assume liability for costs associated with increasing ethanol blends,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is imperative that Congress have some measure of the potential costs of infrastructure and liability risks, should higher blends be mandated.”

The lawmakers asked the GAO to find out the federal government’s risk if it allowed intermediate blends of ethanol, such as gasoline that contains 12 percent ethanol, and assumed liability for damage done to vehicles and non-auto engines. They also wanted to know what research has been conducted on the effects intermediate ethanol blends would have on engines.

The request also asked GAO to spell out the economic challenges of building pipelines that would be dedicated for moving ethanol supplies from the Midwest to the East and West coasts since ethanol can be corrosive when mixed with other petroleum products in current pipeline configurations.

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