Farmers Union Enterprises has published a report detailing its claim that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has colluded with the petroleum industry to hold back ethanol.
As a result of the collusion, cars and light-duty trucks in the U.S. are emitting dangerous, unhealthy tailpipe emissions that have been linked to increases in cancer, birth defects, preterm births, asthma and IQ loss, FUE says.
Emails obtained by FUE through the Freedom of Information Act provide a history of intentional inaccurate testing of fuels and calculations of emissions. The aim of the “fake tests” was to protect the petroleum industry’s octane-boosting additives from being replaced by ethanol, according to Doug Sombke, a Colome, S.D., farmer, president of the South Dakota Farmers Union and FUE chairman.
At the heart of FUE’s claim is a revolving door between the oil industry and EPA, Congress and other federal agencies. Over the past 30 years, hundreds of former industry officials have taken posts in the agency. That has allowed the oil industry to write the rules and create the tests comparing ethanol and octane-boosting additives they process from crude oil.
“It has been fake testing and fake results,” Sombke says.
Referred to as “Gasolinegate,” FUE’s eight-chapter, 74-page report details the top 11 events, obstacles, roadblocks and hurdles that the oil industry and EPA have used to limit ethanol’s use in the nation’s gasoline supply.
It’s the same tactics that the tobacco industry used to protect cigarettes, Sombke says. They manipulated research and data, and threw money as mud in the gears of government oversight, he says.
One of the key additives in question is benzene, a known carcinogen. It and several derivatives that all contain benzene are added to gasoline to increase the octane level.
It is a technical fact that ethanol has the highest octane rating of any available fuel additive, including anything that refiners can produce, which is why they resist using ethanol, Sombke says.
EPA has acknowledged in direct correspondence with Sombke that its computer models that predict emissions are out of date and fail to account for the microscopic particles that form the most harmful emissions. Knowing its testing and procedures were deficient, EPA continued to allow gasoline with a high toxic content into the market, he says.
FUE hopes publication of the Gasolinegate report will get the attention of the national media.
“All we are asking is for EPA to make gasoline safe for the public and to open the door to alternative fuels that meet a wide range of public policy goals,” Sombke says. “EPA has the authority and responsibility to protect public health and has to break the stranglehold of Big Oil to do its job.”
Dakota Farmer has reached out to EPA and the American Petroleum Council for comment on the report but did not receive a reply before publication.
The Gasolinegate report is available online.