Controversy Persists Over EPA's Four-Gallon Rule

Gas_pump

Under a new rule, the EPA will require you to buy a minimum of four gallons of gas from any pump that sells E15, or gasoline that's 15% ethanol. Most stations sell E10, or 10% ethanol. But the handful of stations that sell E15, which made its debut two months ago, generally dispense it from the same pump as E10. Problem is, anyone who fills up with E10 after an E15 buyer could get as much as a quart of residual E15, American Motorcycle Association spokesman Peter Terhorst told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

It's no big deal if you buy a lot of gas. But those who purchase just a few gallons — from motorcyclists to folks with lawn mowers — could damage their engines and void their warranties. Hence the four-gallon rule.

It's caused some controversy, most notably in an editorial Monday by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.): "E15 is like metal in a microwave for a small engine," he wrote. "Americans will try unsuccessfully to fill up a one- or two-gallon fuel can with E10 to take it home and use in their outboard boat engine or lawnmower. Even worse, what will happen when they take the fuel home, tainted with E15, and overheat their snow blower?"

The EPA's rule should help mitigate this, to be sure, and most critics contend that the rule reflects bad gas — E15 — in the first place. The EPA certified vehicles back to the 2001 model year for the 15% ethanol blend, but automakers have demurred. The Auto Alliance, a trade association that represents 11 major automakers, raised concerns last May about potential engine failures. "Automakers did not build these vehicles to handle the more corrosive E15 fuel," Alliance President Mitch Bainwol said in a statement.

What's more, E15's lower energy density will lower gas mileage. As it stands, E10 already docks 3% to 4% in fuel efficiency compared with ethanol-free gas. Fill up with E15, and you can expect to lose a bit more.

Related
Study Warns of E15 Fuel Dangers
EPA OKs E15 for More Cars
More Automotive News

Comments 

Vince

Don't worry Obama's EPA knows better than you do.

George

They can't be that stupid in government, can they? (No they are intentionally being obtuse)
Do it this way:
0 percent ethanol in premium fuel-93
15 percent ethanol in regular-87

That way if you pick mid-grade, and that draws from both tanks, you get 7.5% ethanol 90AKI

bemis

George, even with your "system" the problem still remains.

The issue is when the guy shows up to buy ONE GALLON of E0 (93) he will actually be getting ONE QUART of E15 (87) from the last buyer--this is because it's in the hose and lines...

If they don't want to force a separate nozzle for E15 then they should force pumps that do not retain a significant quantity of fuel in the lines.

Parrots

Why can't the government put up more helpful rules? This doesn't benefit the environment at all, and we still need a lot of corn for food & livestock. I'm not seeing the logic behind this.

Parrots

And why did this rule have to come on now, of all the times? Hello!? We're experiencing one of the worst recorded droughts ever in the United States!

J

I am pretty sure my 2ZZGE will not handle the E15 premium fuel at all.
If there are any signs of malfunction, the EPA can expect a class action.

George

It doesn't have to be that hard.
Lets say a gas station has 10 stations (5 islands double sided)
Let 8 be choose from all grades. Let 1 be a premium fuel station only, Let the other be a regular fuel only.

This is a new twist on an old issue. I know motorcyclists who refuse to use pumps with one hose because they want premium. It's a challenge because it seems most pumps have one hose these days. In some cases you can tell which grade was previously pumped and they go for that one.

If you don't trust E15, I think the best course of action is not to buy it. Go to where there's E10. If consumers reject E15, retailers will object even more strongly than they do now. And if they're required to buy more sophisticated pumps to address this problem, well they're not going to be too keen on that, either.

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