RFA Offering E15 Retailer Handbook

Renewable Fuels Association also offering free pump labels

WASHINGTON -- After three years of unprecedented fuel testing and regulatory scrutiny, the Obama Administration has given its final approval for the sale of E15 ethanol blends under the waiver conditions set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

At an announcement Friday by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, an advocate for American biofuels, the administration stated that all regulatory hurdles to E15 had been addressed by the ethanol industry. Specifically, EPA has notified the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) that its E15 Retail Advisory addresses the agency's concerns with residual fuel left in gasoline pumps with just a single hose.

The advisory is now incorporated into the RFA's "E15 Retailer Handbook" (click here to view the full publication). The E15 Retailer Handbook is referenced by RFA's EPA-approved misfueling mitigation plan (click here)--a strategy required by EPA to ensure E15 is being appropriately and legally offered to consumers.

To help with compliance, the RFA is also offering the approved and required E15 pump labels free of charge to retailers.

"In the eyes of the federal government, E15 is a legal fuel for sale to cars, pickups and SUVs made since 2001," said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. "E15 has undergone the most vigorous testing and regulatory process of any fuel approved by the federal government. With all i's dotted and t's crossed as far as EPA is concerned, our undivided focus will turn to addressing state regulatory issues, identifying retailers wishing to offer E15, and paving the way to greater use of domestically produced ethanol."

Fuel providers and retailers wishing to offer E15 must first register with EPA. In so doing, these companies must state their plans to adhere to the RFA's EPA-approved misfueling mitigation plan.

In cooperation with Growth Energy, the RFA has also initiated a nationwide fuel survey program as required by EPA to ensure stations offering E15 are adhering to misfueling mitigation requirements, such as proper labeling, ethanol content, and vapor pressure.

"We are committed to ensuring a safe and smooth introduction of E15 for consumers and retailers alike," said Dinneen. "Change often breeds confusion and as stations begin to offer E15, the RFA will proactively work with those retailers to educate consumers on the appropriate use of E15 and the benefits of greater domestic ethanol use. We believe it is possible that gallons of E15 could be sold under the waiver conditions before the end of the summer."

Hurdles to the widespread adoption of E15 remain, including pending litigation, threats of congressional intervention to prevent the sale of E15 and state regulatory issues. Also limiting the fast adoption of E15, particularly in summer months, is the requirement that E15 meet stricter federal evaporative emissions standards, known as Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). Currently, most summer gasoline formulations would likely exceed federal limits when blended with 15% ethanol. An RVP waiver for 10% ethanol blends is in place allowing for year round sale. Such a waiver should be extended to E15 as well given that RVP differences are indistinguishable between and 10% and 15% ethanol blends.