Triple-A is issuing a warning about E-15, saying sales of the fuel should be halted until it’s more thoroughly tested. The motor club is urging the federal EPA to stop allowing the 15-percent ethanol blend to be pumped, claiming it could be damaging engines.

Rose White, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, says consumers don’t realize how harmful the fuel may be. “Five manufacturers are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E-15,” White says.

“Seven additional automakers have stated that the use of E15 may void warranty coverage.” Only certain vehicles are made to use the fuel. Of some 240-millon vehicles on the road, roughly 12-million are considered “flex fuel” capable. Ethanol supporters say E-15 is safe for virtually all post-2001 vehicles, based on extensive government-sponsored testing.

White says consumers need to be absolutely certain what type of fuel their vehicle can take. “To help prevent any problems, we’re urging consumers to carefully read the fuel pump labels and know your auto manufacturer’s fuel recommendations before using any type of new fuel blend,” White says. “Fuel recommenations are listed in in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.”

Iowa is the nation’s number-one ethanol producer with more than 40 plants operating. About 95-percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S.  is up to ten-percent ethanol. The E-15 fuel contains five-percent more ethanol.

After winning EPA approval several months ago, White says E-15 is still only sold in three Midwestern states. “The new E15 fuel was just released on the market and there are stations located in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska,” White says.

“There are 10 stations currently selling it but that number is expected to grow.” Eight of those stations are in Kansas, with one each in Iowa and Nebraska. The lone Iowa station is in Marion.  However, stations may also sell E-15 as an alternative fuel, usable only in flexible fuel vehicles — and there are stations that are doing that as well.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) today responded to Triple-A’s statement.  The executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Monte Shaw, says he’s disappointed by the attack on E-15 by Triple-A.

“Triple-A has actually I don’t think in the last 30 years ever said anything nice about ethanol, so this doesn’t exactly come as a big surprise. I don’t know if they get a bunch of funding from oil companies or what, but they’ve always just toed the oil company line. And there was nothing new here, this is retread anti E-15 attack points from big oil,” Shaw told Radio Iowa.

Shaw says he is fed up with the Triple-A attacks on ethanol blended fuels. “You know we’re disappointed, I cut up my Triple-A membership card today. We took a little picture and tweeted it out, because I’m tired of it,” Shaw says. Triple-A cites past attacks on E-15, saying it can harm engines.

Shaw says they can’t back that statement up. “It’s simply not true. Show me one study that shows that. Even the big oil study doesn’t actually show that. They say it does and they have a lot of money and they say it over and over and over again,” Shaw says. “But you have to remember this, E-15 is the most tested fuel in the history of the world by the E-P-A with the Department of Energy involved, and all that happened before it was approved.”

Shaw says it’s easy to see that E-15 is safe. “Look we all run these engines on E-10, this is five percent more, it’s not that big a deal,” Shaw says. He says Ford and G-M have already approved the fuel for their new cars and says it works in their other models, but they are not going to go back and redo their owner’s manuals.

He says Porsche even says the fuel works in their cars all the way back to 2001. Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production.