The newly formed Engine Products Group (EPG) filed a petition Dec. 20, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to grant...

Engine Products Group files legal challenge to E15

The newly formed Engine Products Group (EPG) — which consists of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc. (AIAM), the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) — filed a petition Dec. 20, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to grant a partial waiver approving the sale of gasoline containing 15-percent ethanol (E15) for 2007 model year-and-newer passenger cars and light trucks.

“Our organizations collectively represent some 400 million engine products used by tens of millions of people every day in the U.S.,” said Kris Kiser, executive vice president of OPEI, on behalf of the EPG. “The safe and reliable use of those products is paramount to us and our customers, and the legal action we take today is to protect those customers.”

The petition, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks that EPA’s decision be remanded back to the Agency and requests judicial oversight and review over whether EPA’s “partial waiver” approval for E15 fuels violates the federal Clean Air Act provisions, which expressly limit the circumstances under which EPA can approve applications for new fuels and fuel additives.

The petition challenges the EPA’s ability to grant a partial waiver for three specific reasons.

The Clean Air Act does not authorize EPA to issue any “partial waiver” decisions.
EPA’s own statute passed by Congress in 2007 states that fuels can’t be approved for the market that could cause any failures. Yet, E15 has been shown to adversely affect engines in non-road products and later model year vehicles, cause emission failures, and increase air pollution due to misfueling. Further, administrative records fail to demonstrate that even new model year motor vehicles (other than “flexible fuel vehicles”) would not be damaged and result in failures when run on E15.
The testing, upon which EPA made its decision, was put in the administrative record too late to permit meaningful comment or scrutiny from concerned groups and stakeholders.

“While all members of the EPG have and continue to support the development and use of safe and sustainable alternative fuels, the action EPA has taken to permit E15 to be sold as a legal fuel, even if limited only to certain products, will have adverse consequences for the environment and consumers,” added Kiser. “A partial waiver, by its nature, necessarily will result in the misfueling of products not designed or tested for E15 use.”

“AIAM supports renewable fuels, including ethanol,” said Michael J. Stanton, president and CEO of AIAM. “Our concern is that EPA prematurely granted the partial waiver before critical studies on the effects of E15 use were completed. We want to be sure that any new fuel will not increase air pollution, harm engines, or endanger consumer safety.

“We are pursuing this legal action reluctantly and remain committed to continuing to work with the Administration and other stakeholders to establish prospective, performance-based targets to address the challenging issues related to the introduction of new fuels into the marketplace,” added Stanton. 

Stanton’s sentiments were echoed by NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “NMMA regrets having to pursue litigation on this matter, but it is clear that EPA has not fulfilled its statutory obligations to ensure the safe introduction of E15,” Dammrich said. “Consequently, we and our industry partners have determined that it is necessary to seek relief in the courts in order to protect our manufacturers and our consumers.”

“The partial waiver for E15 sets a bad precedent of how to introduce a new fuel,” said Kiser. “This partial waiver would allow fuel to come on the market with inadequate testing, inadequate misfueling controls and without a dedicated legacy fuel for use in those products for which E15 was not approved.”

A detailed fact sheet on the joint petition filing can be found at: or at individual member Web sites.