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Environmental

Oil refiners join others in opposition to raising ethanol amount in gasoline above 10%

In a prior post it was noted that EPA was considering increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline to perhaps as high as 20%, and that the auto industry was opposed to the proposal due to concerns about the impact on engines and emissions control equipment. In the interim, environmental groups have also expressed opposition to the proposal. Now, petroleum refiners have joined. On Dec. 18, 2008, the National Petrochemical & Refinery Association, American Lung Association, Sierra Club, Engine Manufacturers Association, and others sent a letter to EPA urging that no action be taken on any increase absent "appropriate consideration to the important environmental and consumer safety protections with respect to EPA approval of the use of mid-level ethanol blends." See http://www.npradc.org/files/Letter_to_Administrator_Johnson_on_Mid-Level_Ethanol12-18-2008.pdf. ["Mid-level blends" means any concentration of ethanol in excess of 10%.] As also noted in prior posts, EPA is currently evaluating if biofuels will qualify as a "renewable fuel". As noted previously, one of the key elements in that evaluation is the extent to which EPA considers secondary effects, such as the loss of forest through the conversion of land to grow crops for biofuels. Most expects appear to agree that if such secondary impacts are taken into account, then ethanol will not so qualify due to the loss of forest as a carbon sink. Another issue that has been raised in the last six months in the vulnerability of the grain base needed for ethanol due to inclement weather. See http://www.ewg.org/node/26740.