Washington – Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson last week urging her to approve the waiver request submitted by Growth Energy that would raise the arbitrary limit on the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply from 10 percent to up to 15 percent. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s office made the letter to the public on Wednesday and it coincides with the release of a new report from the National Commission on Energy Policy acknowledging that higher ethanol blends in the fuel supply will be necessary to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Yesterday, the EPA announced it would begin accepting comments to the waiver submission on April 22.
“We’re encouraged by the positive reaction we’ve seen from Capitol Hill to our Green Jobs Waiver. Raising the cap to an ethanol blend up to 15 percent will help create jobs, reduce our dependence on imported oil, and improve the environment,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “The EPA should carefully examine the substantial amount of science showing a 15 percent blend has no adverse impact on a car’s performance, maintenance, or emissions. In fact, the 15 percent ethanol blend is the most tested fuel additive in history.”
In the letter, the 28 signatories noted the benefits of raising the regulatory cap. “Allowing use of ethanol blends up to E-15 will help us preserve and enhance infrastructure that is critical to the timely development of cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels, have significant environmental benefits, foster our nation’s energy independence, create thousands of jobs, and stimulate economic development in communities across the nation.” The Members of Congress also highlighted the significant testing of higher blends that had already taken place. They state, “A number of studies, including by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), provide reassurance that intermediate range ethanol blends including E-15 may and can be used in standard motor vehicles, without raising concerns about tailpipe emissions or drivability. In its updated February 2009 report, DOE, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory assessed the effects of intermediate ethanol blends on a 16-vehicle fleet. According to the results to date, the ethanol content essentially did not affect regulated tailpipe emissions and no concerns about operability or driveability arose.”
The notion that a higher ethanol blend will be necessary to meet the RFS is echoed by a report from the National Commission on Energy Policy. In the report, the Commission says, “it is likely that some combination of increased E85-given it is proven to be commercially viable-and higher-ratio blends will be needed.” The Commission is a bipartisan group of 20 of the nation’s leading energy experts – representing the highest ranks of industry, government, academia, labor, consumer and environmental protection.
Members of Congress who signed the letter to Administrator Jackson include Representatives Herseth Sandlin and Shimkus as well as Representatives Graves (R-MO), Hare (D-IL), Pomeroy (D-ND), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Betsy Markey (D-CO), Boswell (D-IA), Braley (D-IA), Delahunt (D-MA), Donnelly (D-IN), Foster (D-IL), Terry (R-NE), Manzullo (R-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Schock (R-IL), Whitfield (R-KY), Visclosky (D-IN), Costello (D-IL), Halvorson (D-IL), Burton (R-IN), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Loebsack (D-IA), Steve King (R-IA), Emerson (R-MO), Tiahrt (R-NE), Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Schakowsky (D-IL).