By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN
A major association representing ethanol manufacturers is furious that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed making a decision on whether to allow the ethanol content in gasoline to be increased from 10 to 15 percent. But those worried that the increase will damage existing engines applauded the agency’s decision.
The request was made in March 2009 by Growth Energy, an ethanol lobbying group.
Originally a decision by the E.P.A. was expected last December. However, in December the agency said more study was needed and a decision would come in “mid-2010.”
In a statement released Thursday, the agency said all the necessary tests are not finished and a decision is not expected until this fall. In response, Growth Energy’s chief executive officer, Tom Buis, sent an angry letter to President Obama.
“As you would expect, we find this further delay unacceptable,” Mr. Buis wrote. “The fact that the federal agencies involved here cannot meet their own deadlines — on a decision that means so much to our nation — reinforces a public perception that government bureaucracy does not work in the best interests of the public. With fossil fuels getting dirtier, costlier and riskier to extract, as we are witnessing with the epic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, now is the time we should move on expanding the production and consumption of clean, renewable fuels like ethanol.”
But associations representing engine-makers applauded the delay. Their concern has been that increasing the amount of ethanol will damage hundreds of millions of existing engines, ranging from chainsaws to automobiles.