The Urban Air Initiative is challenging the findings in a recent University of Minnesota study that claims ethanol is more polluting than gasoline, calling it an intellectually dishonest effort.
"These are baseless and quite frankly irresponsible conclusions that gasoline is cleaner than ethanol. The study utterly failed to consider a vast body of research by auto industry and health experts that conclusively show gasoline aromatic hydrocarbons are the primary source of the most dangerous urban pollutants," said UAI President David VanderGriend. "The aromatics—which comprise 25 – 30 percent of U.S. gasoline—are responsible for a wide range of serious health effects, including autism, cancer, and heart disease."
Ethanol is a source of clean, low carbon octane that is used in federal reformulated gasoline in major U.S. cities. Although it is not required, refiners choose ethanol for its clean burning properties and its ability to help them meet emission standards. Carbon monoxide exceedances have essentially been eliminated in the U.S. due to the presence of ethanol and ozone violations are at the lowest levels in history. According to the EPA, the amount of ozone in the air has decreased 18 percent from 2000 to 2013.
"Urban air pollution, and specifically summertime smog or ozone, is a mix of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, particulates, NOx, and countless other factors. Gasoline itself is a toxic soup of chemicals but as we add ethanol we clean up that gasoline and protect public health," said VanderGriend.
He noted that outdated models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fail to recognize the value of higher blends of ethanol. Yet, UAI fuel testing confirms that higher blends of ethanol, such as a 30 percent blend, if made by simply adding ethanol to a base fuel already containing ethanol, would significantly lower vapor pressure and provide clean octane. Regardless of deficiencies in EPA modeling, the fact that ethanol is in all U.S. gasoline and ozone levels are decreasing speaks for itself, say UAI researchers.
"We continue to bring our data and real world experience with ethanol to the EPA and hope they can join us in challenging these types of studies that fail to do their homework", said VanderGriend.
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