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Multiple state, federal bills introduced to stop the spread of E15

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Photo by Kurt Haubrich.

Despite the ongoing rollout of E15 fuel nationwide, a handful of bills introduced in legislatures in D.C. and elsewhere aim to put a halt to sale of the fuel blamed for causing damage to older vehicles.

The most extreme of those bills, H.R. 1314, which Virginia Representative Robert Goodlatte introduced, calls for the elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the portion of the Clean Air Act enacted in 2005 that provides for minimum volumes of renewable fuels – everything from corn-based ethanol to biodiesel – to be blended into the country’s fuel supply. The bill has since been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

At the same time, Goodlatte introduced H.R. 1315, the RFS Reform Act of 2017, which would keep ethanol blending amounts at current levels and ban the the production and sale of any fuel with a blend of more than 10 percent ethanol. The bill essentially resurrects two similar bills that Goodlatte introduced in prior sessions of Congress and that died in committee. Like H.R. 1314, H.R. 1315 has since been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Similarly, H.R. 119, the Leave Ethanol Volumes at Existing Levels Act, which Texas Representative Michael Burgess introduced in January, would cap ethanol fuel blends at 10 percent. Burgess, too, introduced similar legislation in the prior session of Congress that died in committee. H.R. 119 also currently resides in the hands of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

On the state level, Georgia’s senate has seen two measures to restrict ethanol-blended fuel sales in the state. The first, S.B. 115, calls for the prohibition of all ethanol-blended fuels while the second, Senate Resolution 205, asks the U.S. Congress to eliminate all requirements for the use of ethanol as a fuel. Similar wording in both the bill and the resolution points to ethanol-caused corrosion as the main reason for banning the fuel:

“High-performance specialty parts, along with older cars and parts, may be most susceptible to such corrosion,” the resolution reads. “There is limited access to unblended gasoline for engines that may be damaged by ethanol, including collector vehicles, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, or small engines.”

Both have since been referred to the state’s Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2012, E15 is now available in about 500 gas stations in the United States, largely in the upper Midwest, according to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. About 3,200 stations sell E85 over a wider geographic distribution.

In its final numbers for 2017, the EPA mandated 19.28 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply, making up about 10.7 percent of the total supply.