New E15 ethanol fuel blend comes to Oklahoma, can damage pre-2001 car models
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 3:23 AM
Buyer beware: E15 gasoline has come to Oklahoma.
Tulsa stations are not yet selling the fuel blended with up to 15 percent ethanol, but they could be soon. Five Oklahoma City stations are now selling E15, according to state officials.
"We don't want motorists to be blindsided," AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said. "It's not widespread, but it's coming. They need to be aware of what fuel they are putting into the vehicles."
AAA fears an overwhelming amount of confusion, noting that 95 percent of consumers it surveyed had not even heard of E15. Only about 12 million out of more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the road today can safely use the blended fuel, according to AAA.
The consumer group is urging stations not to sell E15 until better vehicle protection is assured.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 blended fuels for the retail marketplace in June. Black and orange decals noting whether a pump is serving E15 were put out by the EPA, not state regulators.
The EPA approval study assured motorists that E15 is safe for vehicles from the 2001 model year or later. Ethanol is considered more corrosive than regular fuels and can damage older cars that can handle the more common E10 blend.
Five automobile manufacturers, however, beg to differ. Chrysler, BMW, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen are telling their vehicle owners that they will not honor warranties if fuel problems are a result of using E15.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said the sticker is strictly from the EPA.
"It's very, very important people be on the lookout for these decals," Skinner said. "It's not the manufacturers saying to use it."
QuikTrip has vowed not to sell E15 in the near future. The chain sells E10 at its stores but is concerned about the potential liabilities of misfueling and subsequent engine damage.
"We're going to pay attention to the manufacturers' warnings," QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said.
A federal mandate calls for blending standards and growing consumption of renewable fuels to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Those mandates put pressure on refiners and terminal companies to blend their refined products with ethanol.
Ethanol produced from corn is considered the top domestic renewable choice. Ethanol's detractors noted its impact on food costs and corrosive damage to engines.
Ethanol-blended gasoline is slightly cheaper than E0, or "real gas," due to subsidies supporting that industry. Blended fuels, however, get lesser mileage due to a lower energy content, according to reports.
A handful of stations in Oklahoma sell E85 blended gasoline, meant only for Flex-Fuel vehicles.
Small engines such as lawnmowers are not made to burn ethanol-blended fuels, Skinner and Mai warned.
Original Print Headline: New ethanol blend not for all cars
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
A black and orange decal will soon be on gasoline pumps noting whether a pump is serving E15. The decals are being put out by the Environmental Protection Agency, not state regulators. Courtesy