WASHINGTON -- In response to a request by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted two partial waivers that taken together allow but do not require the introduction into retail commerce of gasoline that contains greater than 10% ethanol and up to 15% ethanol (E15) for use in model-year 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, subject to certain conditions.
On October 13, 2010, EPA granted the first partial waiver (click here) for E15 for use in MY2007 and newer light-duty motor vehicles (i.e., cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). On January 21, 2011, EPA granted the second partial waiver (click here) for E15 for use in MY2001-2006 light-duty motor vehicles. These decisions were based on test results provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other test data and information regarding the potential effect of E15 on vehicle emissions.
EPA also issued a rule (click here) published July 25, 2011, to help inform consumers about the appropriate use of E15 and reduce the potential for misfueling of vehicles, engines and equipment that are prohibited from using E15.
On February 17, 2012, EPA released an evaluation of information submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy for satisfying the emissions and health effects data requirements for registration of E15. The evaluation document (click here) concludes that the submission would be sufficient to satisfy those requirements. Fuel and fuel additive manufacturers who wish to register E15 may choose to rely on the submission for completing their applications.
E15 may be lawfully sold by a fuel or fuel additive manufacturer only after the manufacturer has registered E15 and met the conditions of the partial waivers.
There are a number of additional factors, including requirements under other federal, state and local laws, that may also affect the distribution of E15.
The Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) issued a news alert on Friday that "cautioned its members that unless certain additional liability protections are in place, selling E15 may leave retailers vulnerable to negligence lawsuits."
Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM, formerly known as the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, NPRA), issued the following statement in response to the EPA paving the way for the sale of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol to be sold into the general marketplace: "It is unfortunate that EPA today chose to continue down the path of allowing E15 to be sold as regular gasoline before necessary studies have been completed. Today's decision does nothing to address the concerns of engine damage due to the use of E15 in vehicle and other engines. A number of studies have shown that increasing ethanol in gasoline could cause serious engine damage and as a result, auto manufacturers have stated that they will not warranty engines of their vehicles if gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol is used. This leaves consumers at risk of having to pay costly repair bills. EPA's solution of simply sticking a small label on retail fuel pumps does not solve the problem and will do little to protect consumers from misfueling with gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol."
He added, "AFPM members remain committed to consumer protection and to continuing to manufacture safe and reliable fuels for use by American families. Allowing a 50% increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline before further scientific review is conducted is irresponsible and harmful to consumers."
Click here for the EPA's main E15 page.