Supreme Court Lets E15 Persist, and What’s Coming Next?


The US Supreme Court has decided that it won’t be hear­ing appeals on a fed­eral appel­late court deci­sion uphold­ing the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s push toward hav­ing gaso­line go from 10% ethanol blend to 15%. That isn’t going over too well with sev­eral automak­ers, fuel com­pa­nies, and as few car buffs.  The EPA stands behind E15, insist­ing its safe for cars model year 2001 and later. Chrysler hasn’t approved E15 on cur­rent vehi­cles, and other automak­ers are mak­ing deci­sions on whether E15 will void the war­ranty on the car. What’s com­ing next for E15?

There are some ques­tions to be answered…

  • Will E15 put a dent in fuel econ­omy? That’s still an unknown, and ethanol is known to have less dri­ving range than gasoline.
  • E15 may cause more cor­ro­sion and other dam­age to engines and fuel sys­tems than E10. That’s brought out the objec­tions expressed by automakers.
  • When did all of this start? As part of the Energy Inde­pen­dence and Secu­rity Act in 2007, it was stip­u­lated that refiner­ies had to add increas­ingly greater quan­ti­ties of bio­fu­els like ethanol into the pro­duc­tion of gasoline.
  • As for court rul­ings, in August of last year, a Cir­cuit Court of Appeals in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia ruled that trade groups who’d filed suit lacked stand­ing to sue.
  • As for now, the Supreme Court is allow­ing this deci­sion to stand. It doesn’t mean the issue is set­tled com­pletely; some­times these types of court cases take another form – address­ing other legal issues and court rul­ings – and make their way suc­cess­fully to the Supreme Court. That would take sev­eral years, though.
  • It is going to take a long time for E15 to make its way to gas sta­tions across the coun­try. The num­bers are small now and automak­ers will play a role in how wide­spread it becomes.