A blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline — known as E10 — quickly has become the most commonly used fuel in the country. E10's adoption has been led by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires gasoline producers to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the country's gasoline by 2015.
The EPA this summer granted two partial wavers that allow — but do not require — E15 to be sold more widely.
AAA has called for the EPA to reverse course and prevent E15 from being marketed for anything other than a flex-fuel vehicle.
“In our estimation, the jury is still out,” AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said. “AAA nationally has done a great deal of research on E15 and has uncovered conflicting studies. Some say it's as safe as baby's milk, but other studies show it has a high level of corrosiveness that will denigrate the engine and fuel line over time.
“The bottom line is we just don't know. We feel that rushing E15 to the marketplace until we do know is foolish and compromises motorists' safety.”
Ethanol advocates, however, dismiss the concerns as fear mongering.
“The fact is that E15 is the most studied fuel in the Environmental Protection Agency history,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “They studied more than 100 vehicles for more than three years. The miles driven on the vehicles were the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon.
“This is about one thing: market share. Oil companies don't like that ethanol is now 10 percent of the barrel. They don't want ethanol to be 15 percent of the barrel.”