EPA has announced that it will not make a decision now on the request to allow up to 15% ethanol in the nation's fuel supply, but rather will make that call in 2010.
EPA told Growth Energy, the group who made the reqest back in March, that while not all tests have been completed, the results of two tests indicate that engines in newer cars likely can handle an ethanol blend higher than the current 10% limit. "The agency will decide whether to raise the blending limit when more testing data is available," EPA said in a statement.
EPA also announced that it has begun the process to craft the labeling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.
EPA said it has been evaluating the request for an increase and has received a broad range of public comments as part of the administrative rulemaking process. EPA and the Department of Energy also undertook a number of studies to determine whether cars could handle higher ethanol blends. Testing has been proceeding as quickly as possible given the available testing facilities.
In reaction to the EPA announcement, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen criticized the agency for not making its decision now.
"This delay threatens to paralyze the continued evolution of America's ethanol industry," Dinneen said. "As EPA itself indicated, the scientific data to date has demonstrated no ill-effects of increased ethanol use in any vehicle currently on the road. Moreover, this delay will chill investment in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time in their development and commercialization"