Why The Clean Air Act Could End Up Hurting Your Engine

November 30th, 2015 by

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The government’s Clean Air Act calls for more ethanol in gasoline, with the intent to reduce emissions and help the nation’s farmers. However, a recent report (via Kyle Feldscher of The Washington Examiner) warned that an increase in biofuel could compromise the majority of the car engines that are currently on the road.

To learn more why auto engine repair shops may be busy in the coming years, continue reading after the break…

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The new Renewable Fuel Standard calls for an increase in the amount of biofuel (mostly corn ethanol) in the nation’s gasoline. While 16.93 billion gallons of the biofuel were found in gasoline in 2015, that number will increase to 18.11 billion gallons for 2016.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed today that most vehicle engines can’t handle that amount of ethanol. There’s a concern that the inclusion of more biofuel will push past the “blend wall,” which is when the car engine is compromised by burning too much ethanol. In particular, there are a number of units that can’t process fuel that contains more than 10-percent ethanol. These new gasoline standards would fly past those numbers.

If there’s a bright side, the amount of biofuel was expected to be significantly higher, as The Clean Air Act (put forth by congress) called for an incredible 22.5 billion gallons of ethanol. Luckily, the EPA used their “waiver authority” to lower that number.

“When Congress set up the RFS it contemplated there would be an increasing percent of renewable fuels in the total fuel pool,” said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “That’s what Congress anticipated and that’s what these standards reflect.”

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Furthermore, McCabe and the EPA are confident that fuel companies will try to cater to these drivers by producing gasoline that contains five- to ten-percent ethanol.

“What we’re seeing, and what the RFS is intended to push, is increased use of those fuels and increased availability of those fuels.”

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Either way, we should probably anticipate an increase in fuel prices. Bob Greco, the director of American Petroleum Institute’s downstream group, believes gas that contains more than 10-percent ethanol will be pricier. Furthermore, Greco says the fuels that the government and President Barack Obama are pushing (like E-85 and E-15) aren’t compatible with the majority of today’s vehicles. As Feldscher writes, only about six-percent of cars used E-85, which is 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gas.

“Our concern is that consumers have the right to choose the fuel they want without putting their engines at risk,” Greco said. “… The EPA is pushing fuels the consumer doesn’t want, and ultimately the marketplace is going to validate that.”

On the other side, farmers, environmental groups, and renewable fuel advocates aren’t as happy about the potential reduction of ethanol. Not only will they see decreased business, but as Feldscher writes, “he federal government is sending mixed messages about ethanol, which has been criticized as a fuel source for not providing the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions many anticipated.”

“The fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment,” said Chip Bowling, the president of the National Corn Growers Association. “It is unfortunate that Big Oil’s campaign of misinformation continues to carry weight in the court of public opinion, and in this decision.”

Posted in Car Engine