Novozymes applauds US EPA progress on E15 waiver request

Novozymes is encouraged by the EPA’s announcement yesterday that they are taking the necessary steps to approve a higher ethanol blend in the nation’s gasoline supply.

The agency’s final decision is awaiting results from ongoing engine tests scheduled for completion in mid-2010.

“Although it’s unlikely the U.S. will hit the blend wall in 2010, this action will help the industry meet the federal mandate for renewable fuels over the long term”, says Marketing Director Poul Ruben Andersen. “Stimulating demand for biofuels will prevent a future backlog of supply and further drive development of advanced biofuels to reach the market in the next one to two years. Increasing the blend wall from E10 to E15 is also predicted to help create more than 100,000 green U.S. jobs in the biofuel industry and related industries.”

More than 70 percent of the gas Americans use in vehicles today contains ethanol. Most vehicles use a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, or E10. Existing U.S. government regulations entitled the Clean Air Act (dating back to the 1970s) restrict the maximum ethanol blend to E10. Current U.S. ethanol capacity is getting closer to hitting that 10 percent cap (the so-called blend wall.) Industry group Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in spring 2009 to increase the arbitrary limit on ethanol to E15.

In 2007, Congress mandated the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022 via the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). In order for the mandate to be met, Americans must increase their use of ethanol. This could be achieved by raising the blend limit and/or mandating increased sales of flex-fuel vehicles. However, raising the blend limit is the fastest way to increase the use of ethanol.