AAA CEO urges US Congress to suspend E15 ethanol blend gasoline sales

Robert L. Darbelnet

American Automobile Association (AAA) President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet testifed Wednesday¬†before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment that regulators and industry should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are better protected.

AAA highlighted the inadequate consumer protections and education efforts to date and will express support for additional testing by the National Academy of Sciences.

The hearing will examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to allow the sale of E15, a blend of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol. The subcommittee scheduled the hearing partly in response to AAA’s recent findings that E15 may cause consumer confusion, void warranties and contribute to vehicle damage.

“Congress’ decision to examine potential problems associated with the sale of E15 is encouraging news for motorists,” said Darbelnet. “Most drivers are unaware of the potentially harmful effects of E15 and have not been properly educated about this new fuel entering the market.”

“AAA is not opposed to ethanol, but we are against the way E15 has been introduced and sold to consumers,” continued Darbelnet. “We welcome the committee’s support today as AAA calls for additional impartial research and for regulators and industry to suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are properly educated and protected.”

An AAA survey last fall found that only 12 million out of the 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15. Five manufacturers stated their warranties would not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15, and eight additional manufacturers stated that E15 did not comply with fuel requirements in owners’ manuals and may void warranty coverage.

AAA’s automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 could result in costly problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights in some cars. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed by AAA were not familiar with E15, indicating a strong likelihood of consumer confusion leading to misfueling.

Both E10 and E85 provide options for consumers at this point. Ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to support American jobs, promote American energy independence and save Americans money. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States is E10, which contains up to 10 percent ethanol. E85, which contains up to 85 percent ethanol, is designed for use by flex-fuel vehicles.