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.
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