Big Oil's Anti-E15 Test Lacks Real World Credibility

Oil industry's testing of 15% ethanol blend fuel raises questions and produced biased results, says IRFA.

Published on: Oct 11, 2013

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association last week held a press conference in Des Moines and released new testing data from vehicles driving in the real world that demonstrates the American Petroleum Institute's earlier Coordinating Research Council, or CRC, testing on E15 has no real world implications. To highlight the point, IRFA staff drove a vehicle that exceeded Big Oil's arbitrary testing threshold for cylinder leakdown from Iowa to Washington, D.C. Members of Congress, staff and media were invited to test drive the vehicle during an event on Capitol Hill.

Big Oil has spent months touting the results of a biased CRC test on vehicles using E15, a 15% ethanol blend, and clear gasoline (no ethanol). The CRC test was criticized by many experts for many reasons – notably for its arbitrary testing criteria and for its failure to test vehicles on E10. Since 240 million vehicles routinely operate on E10 without performance issues in the real world, if vehicles running on E10 were also found to exceed the arbitrary testing threshold it would prove that CRC's E15 testing program was fatally flawed.

E15 TEST DRAWS CRITICISM: "The oil industry used meaningless test parameter in an effort to scare the public and policy makers on E15," says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "If Big Oil were telling the truth then this vehicle would not have just hauled us from Des Moines to Washington, D.C. – yet here it is."
E15 TEST DRAWS CRITICISM: "The oil industry used meaningless test parameter in an effort to scare the public and policy makers on E15," says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. "If Big Oil were telling the truth then this vehicle would not have just hauled us from Des Moines to Washington, D.C. – yet here it is."

IRFA says oil industry test used a meaningless test parameter to try to scare the public and policymakers on E15 ethanol

"To determine whether the arbitrary CRC testing parameter had real world implications, we at IRFA did something that CRC refused to do," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "IRFA tested eight random vehicles on E10, a fuel used in over 95% of vehicles today. After 35 years and trillions of miles, we know that E10 works in the real world.  To create the E10 baseline, IRFA tested cars that are driven every day – to work, to school, on summer vacations – with no performance issues. If any of these vehicles exceeded the CRC criteria it would prove the arbitrary testing threshold cannot be used to predict real world operability."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

He adds, "Three of the eight vehicles tested by IRFA did exceed the arbitrary testing threshold. In fact, we just drove one of those three vehicles further than 1,000 miles. If Big Oil were telling the truth then this vehicle would not have hauled us from Des Moines to DC—yet here it is. You just can't take Big Oil's attacks seriously."

IRFA ran its own tests on eight random "daily use" vehicles in Iowa, and proved its point regarding the oil industry's testing

The CRC test of eight vehicles (specifically selected for their presumed sensitivity to this testing protocol) found that three of the vehicles (37.5%) exceeded an arbitrary cylinder leakdown parameter while using E15. Meanwhile, CRC tested only those three cars on clear gasoline, and one of those three vehicles (33%) also exceeded the arbitrary CRC criteria. Had CRC tested the other five cars on clear gasoline they may have found additional vehicles that exceeded their arbitrary testing parameter.

IRFA secured eight random "daily use" vehicles in Iowa that were driven on E10. They were tested for cylinder leakdown by mechanics using the same procedure as the CRC used. Of the eight vehicles tested by IRFA, three (37.5%) exceeded the arbitrary CRC testing parameter. The owners of those three vehicles were quite surprised to learn they had been driving around a vehicle that Big Oil says should leave them stranded on the road.

"Big Oil's E15 testing lacks credibility at every level," says Shaw. "It lacks credibility on their vehicle selection. It lacks credibility on their testing parameters. It lacks creditability on real world implications. And most importantly, Big Oil lacks credibility on how they used their biased results in an attempt to scare the public and policymakers regarding the use of E15."

IRFA road trip from Des Moines to Washington, and "Capitol Ride and Drive"

To highlight the disconnect between Big Oil's irresponsible E15 rhetoric and the real world, IRFA drove one of the three Iowa vehicles that exceeded CRC's arbitrary cylinder leakdown parameter further than 1,000 miles from Des Moines, Iowa to Washington, D.C.  Today, IRFA hosted a "Ride and Drive for E15 Truth" on Capitol Hill so policy makers and media could see firsthand the irrelevancy of the CRC E15 test to real world vehicle operability.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

"Experts agree that the arbitrary CRC testing parameter is not indicative of vehicle performance when the engine is actually running," says Shaw. "Anyone worried by Big Oil's erroneous claims against E15 can come here today and drive a real vehicle in the real world. This vehicle would not be running if we lived in Big Oil's fantasy land, yet it just hauled us over 1,000 miles. The fact of the matter is that engines wear over time and there is no credible testing to show that engine wear is different for any of the registered fuels available to consumers."

E15 is safe and affordable option for motorists who want to save money

In the real world, over 40 million miles have been driven on E15 without a single reported issue. E15 is currently priced 10 to 20 cents per gallon less than gasoline without ethanol. "E15 is a safe and affordable option for motorists who want to save money and reduce our dependence on the volatile Middle East," concludes Shaw. "Big Oil will continue to try to scare people away from E15, but consumers have embraced E15 at every retail location where it is offered."

E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol, can be used by all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). Those vehicles account for 85% of fuel use in the United States. In order to offer E15 to non-FFVs, a retailer must register with the EPA. IRFA works with Iowa retailers to ensure they comply with all federal and state E15 regulations.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.7 billion gallons annually, with one wet mill and three cellulosic ethanol projects currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually. The IRFA was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website.