September 24, 2012

EPA's Four-Gallon Minimum Mandate




By Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)

The latest mandate handed down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so ridiculous, even I was shocked. The EPA has now mandated how much gasoline you must buy at certain gas stations. Say hello to the Obama Administration’s four gallon minimum.

This unprecedented EPA overreach applies when filling up at a gas station that provides both E15 and E10, gasoline with 15 or 10 percent of ethanol, respectively, from the same hose.

At the insistence of the ethanol industry, the Obama Administration is pushing E15 into the marketplace, regardless of the serious concerns about the fuel’s impact on drivers. From its inception, E15 is a study in the consequences of government interference in the marketplace. The EPA’s decision to set a minimum purchase requirement is just the most recent example.

If this seems too far-fetched to be true, here is what the EPA recently wrote in a letter to the American Motorcyclist Association:

"EPA requires that retail stations that own or operate blender pumps either dispense E15 from a dedicated hose and nozzle if able or, in the case of E15 and E10 being dispensed from the same hose, require that at least four gallons of fuel be purchased to prevent vehicles and engines with smaller fuel tanks from being exposed to gasoline-ethanol blended fuels containing greater than 10 volume percent ethanol."

The EPA approved E15 for sale in the U.S. using a partial waiver, meaning it is only approved for some vehicles on the road—cars 2001 and later.

Most of our gasoline contains only 10 percent ethanol. Increasing the ethanol content will harm older vehicles and it is downright dangerous for small engines like those found in boats, lawnmowers, or motorcycles. E15 is like metal in a microwave for a small engine.

The Obama Administration’s attempt to solve the serious concern of misfueling is more government regulation. By requiring a minimum purchase of four gallons of E10 gas, the Administration hopes to dilute the amounts of E15 undoubtedly left in the shared hose and prevent the fuel from ruining small engines or endangering Americans using these devices.

This type of government meddling is completely contradictory to our free market principles, and it is a dangerous precedent to set.

If the government has the power to mandate a minimum amount of gas we can buy, what else can they mandate?

The EPA’s first-ever mandated purchase requirement appears to have been conceived outside the normal regulatory process, making this unprecedented government overreach even more offensive.

Americans deserve to know how a federal agency has the power to do this. I have requested that the EPA explain their authority for this mandate.

Additionally, the very effectiveness of this heavy-handed regulation is questionable.

Many motorcyclists may be stumped when attempting to fill up their bike that doesn’t even have the capacity to hold four gallons.

Other Americans will try unsuccessfully to fill up a one or two gallon fuel can with E10 to take it home and use in their outboard boat engine or lawnmower. Even worse, what will happen when they take the fuel home, tainted with E15, and overheat their snow blower?

In Wisconsin, where we get an average of four feet of snow per year, imagine the frustration of ruining an expensive snow blower only to find that the E15 unequivocally voided the warranty.

This unprecedented, ill-conceived mandate is an example of the worst kind of government interference. It both squashes the free market and will inevitably fail to help those it claims to protect. However, the Obama Administration does successfully do one thing: highlight the E15 partial waiver as completely unworkable.

Sensenbrenner, a Republican, represents the fifth congressional district in Wisconsin.







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