Four bipartisan Iowa congress members authored a letter to the Coordinating Research Council Monday, calling its study on E15 "significantly flawed."
The study, released last month, showed adverse effects to engines while using E15. Some of the problems reported included failed valve seats, which can cause high fuel use and higher than normal emissions.
Challenging the study's accuracy, congress members Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley, Steve King, Tom Latham and Dave Loebsack wrote in the letter to the CRC that the study "does little to address our nation's need for clean renewable fuel that lowers the price at the pump and creates jobs here at home."
The letter also included a response to the study from the Department of Energy, which stated, "We believe the choice of test engines, test cycle, limited fuel selection, and failure criteria of the CRC program resulted in unreliable and incomplete data, which severely limits the utility of the study."
The letter also highlighted several comments from the Department of Energy website, which said the CRC study failed to establish a proper control group—a "standard component of scientific, data-driven testing."
The letter cited several other "flaws" in the CRC study, including the CRC's selection of engines known to have durability issues as presented by previous National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls, as well as the use of a test cycle to specifically stress the engine valve train.
The congressmen closed off the letter by writing, "Americans overwhelmingly want greater choice at the pump. E15 gives consumers a lower-cost and more energy-secure domestic fuel option."
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association issued a statement commending the congress members for their response to the CRC study. IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw called E15 "the most tested fuel in history," and said the CRC study was "purposefully designed to fail."
However, automotive advocacy groups, including Global Automakers and Auto Alliance, disagree with the sentiment of the IFRA, Energy Department and the four Iowa congressmen, reporting that the use of E15 could lead to costly repairs for the American consumer.
"Clearly many vehicles on the road today are at risk of harm from E15," said Mitch Bainwol, president & CEO of Auto Alliance. "The unknowns concern us greatly, since only a fraction of vehicles have been tested to determine their tolerance to E15."
Global Automakers CEO Mike Stanton echoed the sentiments of Bainwol. "Our goal is to ensure that new alternative fuels are not placed into retail until it has been proven they are safe," he said.
Both groups said the EPA should have waited to consider results of this and similar studies before allowing the use of E15.
According to the automotive groups, damage from E15 use in non-Flex Fuel Vehicles could cost as much as $4,000.