AAA CEO Urges Suspension of E15 Sales

Darbelnet testifies before House science, technology subcommittee

Robert Darbelnet

WASHINGTON -- AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet testified Tuesday before the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology's Subcommittee on Environment that regulators and industry should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are better protected. AAA will highlight the inadequate consumer protections and education efforts to date and will express support for additional testing by the National Academy of Sciences.

"Congress' decision to examine potential problems associated with the sale of E15 is encouraging news for motorists," said Darbelnet at the hearing, Mid-Level Ethanol Blends: Consumer & Technical Research Needs "Most drivers are unaware of the potentially harmful effects of E15 and have not been properly educated about this new fuel entering the market."

The hearing examined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recent decision to allow the sale of E15, a blend of gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol. The subcommittee scheduled the hearing partly in response to AAA's recent findings that E15 may cause consumer confusion, void warranties and contribute to vehicle damage.

"AAA is not opposed to ethanol, but we are against the way E15 has been introduced and sold to consumers," said Darbelnet. "We welcome the committee's support today as AAA calls for additional impartial research and for regulators and industry to suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are properly educated and protected."

A survey by AAA last fall found that only 12 million out of the 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15. Five manufacturers stated their warranties would not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15, and eight additional manufacturers stated that E15 did not comply with fuel requirements in owners' manuals and may void warranty coverage.

AAA's automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 could result in costly problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false "check engine" lights in some cars, the group said; 95% of consumers surveyed by AAA were not familiar with E15, indicating a strong likelihood of consumer confusion leading to misfueling.

Both E10 and E85 provide options for consumers at this point, said the group. Ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to support American jobs, promote American energy independence and save Americans money. More than 95% of the gasoline sold in the United States is E10, which contains up to 10% ethanol. E85, which contains up to 85% ethanol, is designed for use by flex-fuel vehicles.