EPA OKs E15 for Sale at U.S. Gas Stations

"Significant hurdles remain" says PMAA

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed the last federal regulatory barrier standing in the way of bringing E15 (gasoline-ethanol blends containing up to 15% ethanol)to retail consumers, said the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) in a news alert.

The Renewable Fuels Association successfully removed the last barrier standing when it addressed the EPA's remaining concern about potential consumer misfueling due to residual E15 left in the hose of a blender pump that also dispenses E10 product. The RFA said it will incorporate procedures to prevent residual misfueling in its E15 retailer handbook. With its concerns fully addressed, the EPA marked the end of a three-year approval process by giving E15 the green light, said PMAA.

The EPA's final approval of misfueling mitigation measures does not mean E15 will arrive at retail stations anytime soon, it added, "as significant hurdles remain."

PMAA said, "Consumer concerns about potential engine damage and marketer worries over misfueling liability are just the tip of the iceberg preventing the widespread introduction of E15 in the marketplace. A far larger hurdle to overcome for the E15 industry is the myriad of state regulatory issues that must first be resolved before E15 makes it to retail pumps. These issues include UST equipment and dispenser compatibility, state fuel quality assurance requirements, consumer protection, fire code and weights and measure standards as well as state OSHA rules. Clearing these hurdles will likely involve a lengthy process in states where regulators remain concerned about E15 and its potential impact on equipment, workplace safety, consumer protection and the environment."
Until now, no U.S. company could sell a gasoline-ethanol blend that contained more than 10% ethanol to most conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles, added a report by The Des Moines Register. Most gasoline sold in the United States is a mix of 10% ethanol.
The blend has been approved for use in cars and light trucks built since 2000, but it is banned from older vehicles and light equipment.
"I think there are a number of stations particularly in the Midwest that will be very interested in doing this, and there will certainly be encouragement from the renewable fuel industry for it to be done as quickly as possible," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in an interview with the newspaper. "It's about providing consumers choice, and the reality is that choice is also saving them money at the pump."
A broader distribution of blender pumps could help companies such as Poet, Archer Daniels Midland and Green Plains Renewable Energy sell more ethanol, said the report.
Corn-based ethanol has been touted by the ethanol industry and American farmers who supply corn as a way to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil, create jobs and boost income for rural communities. Critics say ethanol leads to food inflation by driving up the cost of meat and poultry.