Climate & Energy Blog

Broad opposition speaks out against E15 bill

Posted Apr. 24, 2012 / Posted by: Michal Rosenoer

On Thursday, April 19th the House subcommittee on the environment and economy held a hearing on H.R. 4345, the Domestic Fuels Protection Act of 2012, which provides liability protection for oil companies, gas retailers, and car manufacturers for any environmental or economic damage caused by the use of E15, among other fuel types. Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups oppose the Domestic Fuels Protection Act, but the opposition comes from well beyond the environmental community. Last Thursday, 43 diverse groups, including engine manufacturers, hunger advocates, animal agriculturalists, fiscal conservatives, and tax and budget groups,  joined us in urging Congress to oppose the bill with 9 separate letters to Congress.

Below are some excerpts from the letters of opposition. Click here for a full list of groups opposing H.R. 4345 and their letters in full.

From Environmental Working Group, Our Children's Earth Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth: "Providing broad immunity from E15-related lawsuits puts all the environmental risks and hazards of this product on the American people, not the industry."

From EarthJustice, Southern Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Environment America, National Audubon Society, and others: "MTBE is only one of the contaminants in fuels that pose health threats to people exposed to fuel-contaminated water...This bill is so reckless that it applies to new additives and contaminants that may be added to fuel in the future, without any regard for the health risks they may pose. It is so radically unfair and irresponsible that it would even dismiss existing liability suits for contamination that has already been caused, even if the perpetrators are known."

From Action Aid, Oxfam, and others: "This bill would leave consumers and taxpayers vulnerable to the potential damages and costs incurred on their engines, public safety, health, and the environment associated with using E15...A move to higher blends of ethanol with gas could also produce another demand shock to our corn market. This demand shock could cause food prices to spike at home and abroad."

From Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, and others: "the Domestic Fuels Protection Act...grossly undermines state consumer protection laws, gives immunity to makers of defective fuel products, and shields owners and operators of leaking underground storage tanks from legal action...These exemptions will likely endanger public health and consumer safety. Twenty-five states have banned MTBE, a gasoline additive notorious for leaking from underground storage tanks, yet its handlers would qualify for liability protection."

From the Association of California Water Agencies: "[This bill] transfers the cost of cleaning  up contaminated groundwater from the responsible parties to the ratepayers...ACWA and CASA strongly encourage you to revise the bill so as not to place the safety of our nation's drinking water at risk."

From multiple water agencies: "Affected water systems would not only have to finance billions in clean up costs, but also find and pay for new sources of drinkable water - all without assistance from the party responsible for the pollution in the first place."

From AAA: "AAA opposes H.R. 4345 and urges you to not protect the interests of those in the fuel supply chain by unfairly shifting the burden of [engine damage incurred by use of E15] to American motorists."

From Boat U.S., the Boat Owners Association of the United States: "with E15 leading to the gas pumps, Boat U.S. has a number of concerns that mis-fueling of boat engines will occur...this legislation would remove crucial protections for boating consumers...for a number of years our members have experiences significant problems resulting from ethanol in gasoline...thousands of boaters have faced significant-and expensive-problem,s some leading to complete engine and/or fuel tank failure."


When groups as diverse as car manufacturers and the Sierra Club come out against the same issue, it should send a "red flag" signal to Congress. Raising the amount of corn ethanol in our engine fuel, and providing liability protection to the gasoline supply-chain for all the negative consequences of E15's implementation, is a definite mistake that we hope Congress can avoid facilitating. See our factsheet on the Trouble with Corn Ethanol to learn more about the negative consequences of using ethanol in our fuel supply.

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