Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

Michael Green Contact TileHearing to highlight need for consumer protections, education and additional research on E15

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 26, 2013) – AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet will testify today before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment that regulators and industry should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are better protected. AAA will highlight the inadequate consumer protections and education efforts to date and will express support for additional testing by the National Academy of Sciences.

“Congress’ decision to examine potential problems associated with the sale of E15 is encouraging news for motorists,” said Darbelnet. “Most drivers are unaware of the potentially harmful effects of E15 and have not been properly educated about this new fuel entering the market.”

Additional Resources

  • Click here to listen to a AAA interview with Robert L. Darbelnet on E15

The hearing will examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to allow the sale of E15, a blend of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol. The subcommittee scheduled the hearing partly in response to AAA’s recent findings that E15 may cause consumer confusion, void warranties and contribute to vehicle damage.

“AAA is not opposed to ethanol, but we are against the way E15 has been introduced and sold to consumers,” continued Darbelnet. “We welcome the committee’s support today as AAA calls for additional impartial research and for regulators and industry to suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are properly educated and protected.”

The subcommittee hearing, “Mid-Level Ethanol Blends: Consumer and Technical Research Needs,” is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 2:00 PM EST in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

A AAA survey last fall found that only 12 million out of the 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15. Five manufacturers stated their warranties would not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15, and eight additional manufacturers stated that E15 did not comply with fuel requirements in owners’ manuals and may void warranty coverage.

AAA’s automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 could result in costly problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights in some cars. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed by AAA were not familiar with E15, indicating a strong likelihood of consumer confusion leading to misfueling.

Both E10 and E85 provide options for consumers at this point. Ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to support American jobs, promote American energy independence and save Americans money. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States is E10, which contains up to 10 percent ethanol. E85, which contains up to 85 percent ethanol, is designed for use by flex-fuel vehicles.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Suspend Sale of E15 Gasoline

December 17th, 2012 by AAA

By Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

Published first in The Hill on Dec. 13, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gasoline retailers should suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until more is done to protect consumers from the potential for costly auto damage and voided warranties.

Additional Resources

Research to date raises serious concerns that E15, a fuel blend consisting of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel system damage and other problems such as false “check engine” lights.

The potential damage could result in costly repairs for unsuspecting consumers. This is especially tough for most motorists given that only about 40 percent of Americans have enough in savings to afford a major auto repair.

In June, the EPA approved the use of E15, and a handful of gas stations in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas have begun to sell this fuel. There is a strong likelihood that retailers will market E15 in additional states soon unless regulators take immediate action to protect consumers.

Nearly all of the gasoline sold in the United States today is E10, which contains up to ten percent ethanol, primarily produced from corn. The ethanol industry has lobbied hard to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline as a way to increase sales and help meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.

AAA’s concern with E15 is not about ethanol. In fact, AAA believes that ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to save Americans money and reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. The problem is that available research, including the EPA’s exhaust emissions tests, is not sufficient evidence that E15 is safe to use in most vehicles.

The ethanol industry’s response to reports of damage caused by E15 is that it is the most tested fuel in the EPA’s history.  The caveat to this assertion is that while the agency did test E15, their research focused primarily on exhaust emissions and associated components such as catalytic converters. While this research was consistent with the EPA’s mission, it never fully examined whether E15 might damage engines and fuel systems.

Some of those supporting E15 admit the fuel may cause damage. For example, the Renewable Fuels Association warned retailers that some underground storage tank systems, both new and used, exhibited reduced levels of safety and performance when exposed to E15. In addition, earlier this year the industry testified before Congress in support of legislation that proposed to give fuel producers blanket liability protections, while providing no protections to motorists. If the industry is not confident enough to take responsibility for the risks of E15, is it right that the risks be passed onto consumers?

Automakers advise they may void warranties for anyone using E15. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) state their warranties will not cover E15 claims. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) state that E15 does not comply with fuel requirements specified in most owners’ manuals and may void warranties. It is difficult to comprehend why the EPA would choose to ignore all these warnings.

The automakers’ position is understandable given that most cars were never designed for E15. Only about five percent, or 12 million of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on U.S. roads today, are approved by manufacturers to use the fuel. These vehicles include flex-fuel models, 2001 and newer Porsches, 2012 and newer GM vehicles and 2013 Fords. So unless you drive a Porsche or a brand new car, you could be out of luck when it comes to E15.

The only responsible action to take now is to suspend the sale of E15 until consumers are better informed and protected at the pump. AAA did not come to this decision lightly. We arrived at this recommendation only after extensively reviewing the existing research, surveying automakers and conducting a national poll finding that only five percent of Americans had heard of E15.

The simple truth is that E15 is a product not yet ready for public consumption, and government regulators have an obligation to suspend sales until these issues are addressed.

AAA recommends the EPA, fuel producers and automakers collectively develop a long-term plan that promotes public education, while implementing improved labeling and warnings at the pump. Additional research also is necessary to better understand the full consequences of using E15 in older and newer vehicles.

AAA urges regulators and the renewable fuels industry to consider the interests of consumers first by immediately suspending the sale of E15 before American motorists are left footing the bill.

AAA research reveals need for regulators and industry to suspend E15 sales to protect motorists

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2012) – A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol. With little consumer knowledge about E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected.

Additional Resources

Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers. AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.

“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”

Unsuspecting consumers using E15 could end up with engine problems that might not be covered by their vehicles’ warranties. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.

The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles.

“The sale and use of E15 should be suspended until additional gas pump labeling and consumer education efforts are implemented to mitigate problems for motorists and their vehicles,” continued Darbelnet. “Consumers should carefully read pump labels and know their auto manufacturer’s recommendations to help prevent any problems from E15.”

AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on vehicle engines and fuel system components. At least  ten gas stations currently sell E15 and that number is expected to grow, which means now is the time to suspend sales before more retailers begin offering the fuel.

The EPA in June officially approved the sale of E15 after receiving a waiver request from producers interested in expanding the use of corn-based ethanol. Despite objections by auto manufacturers, the EPA approved the use of E15 gasoline in flex-fuel vehicles and 2001 model year and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles and SUVs. AAA urges consumers to follow the recommendations of manufacturers to truly protect themselves from voided warranties or potential damage.

AAA supports the development and use of alternative fuels. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Lower ethanol blends should remain available to consumers while the challenges with E15 are addressed.

The survey findings related to consumer knowledge of E15 are from a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,012 adults comprising 504 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., January 10, 2006

“I am pleased to join Administrator Johnson today to commend the work he and his agency are doing to revamp the system by which EPA calculates fuel economy estimates that appear on the window stickers of new vehicles.

From AAA’s perspective, it’s about one simple truth. Consumers want to know that the information they see on a government-sanctioned label reasonably reflects what they will experience on the road. The Administrator and I are here today to say that we can do a better job to achieve that objective, and we can do it without creating an entirely new testing system. We have time to discuss the details during the official comment period, but EPA’s release of this proposal is a very important step in the right direction – one AAA has called for in the past.

Purchasing a new vehicle is an expensive investment that consumers take very personally and make with great care. Many factors contribute to the decision, including vehicle fuel economy, which is becoming more important as consumers experience increasing fuel prices.

Fuel economy labeling is an inexact science, but that’s no excuse to remain tied to a rating system that pre-dates the powerful vehicles and travel patterns we see on our roads today – larger vehicles, traveling at faster speeds, and often packed to the brim.

Last year AAA joined forces with leaders in Congress to make the case that fuel economy ratings were inaccurate, and therefore, misleading. As fuel prices soared upward, consumers became very aware of the disparity between the EPA sticker rating and what they were seeing on the road. And, it’s no wonder why. The testing procedures were first devised in the 1970’s. 

Today’s proposal to revamp the process demonstrates a willingness on the part of EPA to try a new approach – one that will lead to more accurate information for consumers. 

Some may be wary of change, fearing manufacturers would be required to create new and costly testing procedures to improve the accuracy of fuel economy labeling. However, EPA already has a test, known as the US06, which is being used for emissions certification purposes that AAA believed also produced more accurate fuel economy ratings. But, the information from this test is not used for new car MPG labels. To confirm our belief, we commissioned a rigorous study by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, which put some of the most popular vehicles on the road today through the US06 test and compared the results to what drivers experience everyday. Their findings demonstrate that EPA’s US06 test does indeed provide more accurate information than what is currently on new car labels. The Automotive Research Center’s data supports the direction the EPA Administrator is announcing today. Before I get into the specifics of this research, let me make three key points that summarize AAA’s goals:

  • Fuel economy labeling is about truth-in-advertising. It’s about giving consumers the most accurate information possible so that they can make informed decisions when they purchase new vehicles.
  • The research and analysis conducted by the Automotive Research Center confirms that at least one existing test, the USO6, comes closer to reflecting real-world driving conditions.
  • This research also demonstrates that the way a person drives a vehicle can strongly impact the mileage they are likely to get when they’re out on the road. Clearly, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to achieving the best mileage possible from their vehicles.

Let me briefly summarize the testing and analysis done by the Automotive Research Center.

The Automobile Club of Southern California operates a state-of-the-art emissions and vehicle test laboratory in Diamond Bar, California.  Steve Mazor, who manages the Automotive Research Center, is here with us today. Mr. Mazor and his technicians identified 18 models that reflected vehicles popular on the road today: small and large passenger cars, pickup trucks, small and large SUVs, and hybrids. At least one of each model was tested in the laboratory itself. A total of 41 vehicles were tested either in the laboratory or on the road.

The goal of the testing was to objectively measure the accuracy of the information now on the labels and determine if the US06 test provided MPG ratings that more closely mirror real-world driving conditions.

This is what we found:

  • The current system of city/highway measurements significantly overestimates real-world miles per gallon. The current system of fuel economy labeling is based on two tests: one measuring city driving; one measuring highway driving. That’s what you see on the window sticker. There is also a combined EPA rating not found on the window sticker. The tests performed by the Auto Club’s Auto Research Center confirm that the city/highway tests are inaccurate.
  • The results show that 90 percent (36 of the total 41 vehicles tested) experience worse results than the current EPA estimate. The average deviation from EPA ratings was 4 miles per gallon and some were off by as much as 19 miles per gallon.
  • The newer US06 test, currently used for emissions certification purposes, but not for labeling purposes, does a better job of estimating real-world MPG.

In conclusion, the Auto Club’s research confirms the problem and supports the premise that EPA is on the right track by looking to newer testing procedures to improve information on the window sticker. AAA firmly believes that getting the best information to consumers is just good public policy.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 2, 2005

Christie HydeEach year, AAA car review experts test hundreds of vehicles under “real world” driving conditions and come to the same conclusion as many motorists – the actual miles per gallon achieved during the daily use of a vehicle generally falls well short of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.  AAA’s “real world” driving tests found dozens of examples where vehicle miles per gallon for 2003 and 2004 model years were overestimated because of outdated 30-year-old EPA tests.   

To address this issue, AAA today announced its support of the “Fuel Efficiency Truth-in-Advertising Act of 2005” that would require EPA to update its miles per gallon testing procedures.

The legislation has bi-partisan support in the United States Congress and is sponsored by U.S. Representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ).

Additional Resources

  • 2005 MPG Chart: AAA’s “real world” driving tests found dozens of examples where vehicle miles per gallon for 2003 and 2004 model years were overestimated because of outdated 30-year-old EPA tests

“When it comes to gas mileage, some car buyers are finding out they are not getting what they thought they paid for,” said Susan Pikrallidas, AAA Vice President of Public Affairs.  “When a consumer is told your mileage results may vary – it probably should say ‘your results WILL vary.’”

AAA cited mpg in its test drives of some of the most popular vehicles driven today that were significantly lower than EPA city estimates.

Although the AAA test drives are neither standardized nor scientific, the nation’s organization for motorists says its “real world” driving trips may be more meaningful to consumers as they make car-buying decisions.  AAA’s testers put vehicles through a range of driving cycles that include stop and go traffic, climbing steep grades, trips to the grocery and a combination of both highway and city driving.  AAA’s full vehicle reviews can be found at www.aaa.com.

The current EPA tests were established in the late 1970s and do not take into account higher speed limits on many interstates and increased congestion nationwide.  The tests are even conducted with the air conditioner off.

“We believe consumers should have the most accurate information possible when it comes to expected gas mileage of the vehicles they purchase,” said Pikrallidas.

“This would be accomplished by requiring EPA to use real-world tests in setting federal mileage estimates.”

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 47 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services.  Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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