AAA: Consumers Don't Understand E15

NATIONAL REPORT -- Ninety-five percent of consumers don't understand E15 fuel standards, revealed a telephone survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The AAA added in its findings that although E15 has been approved for use in 2001 and newer vehicles by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), its standards could confuse consumers and lead to damaged engines that may not be covered by warranties.

"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," AAA President Robert Darbelnet relayed in a statement. "Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers."

The EPA approved the sale of E15 on June 18. A Kansas Zarco 66 convenience was the first to offer the ethanol blend at the pump. Today, nine gas stations offer E15, with seven in Kansas, one in Iowa and one in Nebraska.

E15 retailers must post a "prominent orange and black label" at the pump. Retailers failing to do so face fines of up to $37,500 per day.

Despite concerns offered by AAA, many have lauded the future of E15. Scott Zaremba, CEO of Zarco 66, said in an October Convenience Store News story that he planned to offer E15 at all eight of its convenience stores.

Another large proponent of ethanol is NASCAR. Racing legend Richard Childress noted during a September Convenience Store News webinar that NASCAR drivers have already logged more than 3 million miles on E15 fuel.

Also, during an exclusive interview that took place at the NACS Show in October, Childress' grandson, racecar driver Austin Dillon, lauded ethanol-blended fuel for many reasons.

In addition, some experts have stated that misfueling with E15 one time is unlikely to cause significant engine damage.

"The press release issued by the AAA has no scientific basis and is nothing more than hollow criticism lacking any facts to back up the irresponsible claims," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, which represents the producers and supporters of ethanol. "E15 is the most tested fuel to date and the Department of Energy, a true expert on the matter has studied the fuel extensively, more than six million miles, coming to the conclusion that, "the resulting Energy Department data showed no statistically significant loss of vehicle performance (emissions, fuel economy, and maintenance issues) attributable to the use of E15 fuel compared to straight gasoline.'"

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