Science proves ethanol's benefits
WASHINGTON -- Ethanol has changed the energy landscape of America by providing, for the first time in history, a clean, affordable and renewable means to increase our energy independence, green our environment and boost our ailing economy by crea...
WASHINGTON -- Ethanol has changed the energy landscape of America by providing, for the first time in history, a clean, affordable and renewable means to increase our energy independence, green our environment and boost our ailing economy by creating American jobs.
The federal government acknowledged this bright future through passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which, among other things, mandated 36 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into our domestic fuel supply by 2022. But this aggressive action to secure America's future will not be realized unless the existing regulatory barriers are removed and higher blends of ethanol are approved for use in America's vehicles.
Unfortunately, a Dec. 18 letter from a coalition of organizations concerned about the effects of ethanol, including the American Lung Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers and the Clean Air Task Force, to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson regarding mid-level blends ignores multiple studies conducted that have shown that today's vehicles can run on higher, intermediate blends of ethanol without any impact on the car's performance, maintenance or emissions.
While Growth Energy agrees that sound, science-based testing is of the utmost importance, more rigorous testing has been done on ethanol's inclusion in the fuel supply than any other additive.
In the past two years alone, multiple comprehensive studies involving more than 100 vehicles, 85 vehicle and engine types, and 33 fuel dispensing units have been completed to evaluate the effects of ethanol-gasoline blends above 10 percent ethanol, including, specifically, E-15 and blends as high as E-85. These studies include a year-long driveability test and more than 5,500 hours of materials compatibility testing.
Today's ethanol offers a sustainable solution to powering our country while helping conserve our environment. Ethanol results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and is fully biodegradable.
The Department of Energy estimates that 13 million tons of greenhouse gases were avoided in 2007 because of biofuels production and use.
Currently, E-10 reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 19 percent compared with conventional gasoline. On top of further greenhouse gas reductions with E-15, the higher blend would give the ethanol industry the market it needs to continue investment in commercial cellulosic ethanol production, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 86 percent compared with gasoline. Use of mid-level blends offers a tremendous opportunity to fulfill the promise of second generation biofuels.
Multiple peer-reviewed studies have found that higher blends of ethanol do not increase vehicle emissions. A recent study prepared by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy titled Effects of Intermediate Ethanol Blends on Legacy Vehicles and Small Non-Road Engines, Report 1, concluded that when E-15 and E-20 were compared with traditional gasoline, there are no significant changes in vehicle tailpipe emissions, vehicle drivability or small nonroad engine emissions as ethanol content increased.
Further, a the Energy & Environmental Research Center and Minnesota Center for Automotive Research examined the effects of ethanol blends ranging from E-10 to E-85 on motor vehicles and found that exhaust emissions levels for all vehicles at all levels of ethanol blend were within the applicable Clean Air Act standards. In fact, the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest has designated ethanol as a "Clean Air Choice" because of its prevention of lifecycle CO2 and other pollutants.
Numerous studies have shown that vehicles can run on higher, intermediate blends of ethanol without any effect on the car's performance or maintenance and, in fact, may improve fuel economy.
A study by the state of Minnesota, in cooperation with academic and industry groups, compared the effects of E-0, E-10 and E-20 on several fuel system components (19 metals, eight elastomers and eight plastics) and conclusively found no significant differences between E-10 and E-20 use. The study further determined that a 20 percent ethanol blended fuel (E-20) proved effective at both powering the vehicles successfully and was also nondistinguishable in performance.
In addition, a University of North Dakota study found that all four vehicles tested operated well on blends beyond 10 percent ethanol. The three nonflex-fuel vehicles tested obtained greater fuel economy at higher blends of ethanol than the unleaded gasoline.
We encourage you to a take a closer look at the wide body of scientific evidence regarding mid-level blends that already exists today. Our nation's economic and environmental future is too important to jeopardize by delayed action.