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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected the American Petroleum Institute's (API) challenge to block sales of E15, the controversial fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. This leaves standing a federal appeals court ruling that dismissed challenges by the API and other trade associations, allowing E15 to be sold at gas stations nationwide, according to the Associated Press.
Individual businesses and consumers have the choice of whether to sell and use E15. It is currently sold at approximately 20 Midwest gas stations. Most gas blends sold nationwide contain around 10 percent ethanol.
"Now that the final word has been issued, I hope that oil companies will begin to work with biofuel producers to help bring new blends into the marketplace that allow for consumer choice and savings," said Tom Buis, CEO of ethanol industry group Growth Energy.
The API called the court decision a loss for consumers, safety and the environment, according to the report. "EPA approved E15 before vehicle testing was complete, and we now know the fuel may cause significant mechanical problems in millions of cars on the road today," stated Harry Ng, vice president and general counsel for API.
Proponents of E15, however, once again labeled this claim a scare tactic.
"This is another example of oil companies unnecessarily scaring people and it's just flat-out wrong," said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association.
The API pointed to a study it commissioned last year that discovered engine problems caused by E15, but the U.S. Energy Department said the study was flawed and included engines with known durability problems.
Earlier this year, AAA expressed concern over American drivers' understanding of E15 and recommended that it not be sold until more testing allows ethanol suppliers and automakers to agree on which vehicles can use it safely, while adequately informing consumers of risks.
The federal government does not require the use of E15, but believes it to be safe for cars released in model year 2001 or newer.
"In the real world, I've had zero problems [with breakdowns]," said Scott Zaremba, president of Zarco 66 Inc., which was the first gas station in the country to offer E15 last year. Zaremba was reportedly forced to stop selling the fuel after Zarco supplier Phillips 66 told him he could not dispense E15 from his regular black fuel hoses.