Environmental Working Group: Beware of New Ethanol Blend

February 17, 2012

The government's decision to allow sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol, so-called E15, means that one of these days you'll likely pull into a gas station that could have as many as four pumps with different kinds of fuel: one for E10 (up to 10 percent ethanol); one for E15; possibly one for E85 (between 70 and 85 percent ethanol); and maybe one for pure gasoline.

Depending on how old your car or truck is, you'll have to make sure you choose the right blend. If you make a mistake and put E15 in an older car, there's a good chance you'll run into big problems with your engine. And if you fill a gas can and use it in your lawnmower or outboard, be prepared to buy a new one soon.

In early 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency approved the corn ethanol industry's petition to increase the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline. EPA approved E15 for use in newer cars and trucks – Model Year 2001 or later. That's a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol allowed in the widely available E10.

Every major automaker has warned that their warranties – even for newer vehicles – will be voided if drivers fill up with E15. Automakers and small engine manufacturers are so upset that they are suing EPA over the E15 decision. Click here to see the letters that major auto companies sent to Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) before a July 2011 Congressional hearing (where EWG's Heather White testified about the problems with E15).