White House OKs New E15 Pump Label

E15 could be available nationwide by end of September

WASHINGTON -- The White House has signed off on a new gasoline pump label that would warn consumers when they are about to fill their vehicles with E15 (85% gasoline, 15% ethanol), according to a Reuters report.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved raising the ethanol levels in gasoline to 15% from 10% for newer cars and trucks in January, a move welcomed by the ethanol industry and by farmers who supply the corn to make the fuel.

The new label means E15 could be available nationwide by the end of September, according to Growth Energy, the pro-ethanol [image-nocss] trade group.

The EPA still has to officially register E15 before it can be sold.

It is unclear how fast E15 gasoline will be adopted by gas station owners as they would have to invest in new pumps and separate storage tanks. Many stations will continue to sell E10 gasoline, which can be used in all makes of vehicles.

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), whose members sell about 80% of the gasoline in the United States, sent a joint letter to EPA two weeks ago opposing the new label.

The groups said retailers selling E15 could be held liable for damages if consumers inadvertently put the fuel in the wrong engines.

E15 is approved for vehicles built since 2001, a fleet of 150 million cars and trucks that consumes 74% of U.S. gasoline production.

In late May, NACS and SIGMA filed comments with the EPA to communicate the industry's opposition to a petition by small-engine makers to require all motor fuels retailers to sell E10 or lower fuels.

The comments point out four reasons why mandating retailers to sell gasoline blends of less than or equal to E10 is unnecessary: Retailers who choose to sell E15 would be exposed to a variety of risks, primarily because the proposed regulation could in certain situations leave retailers--even those who comply with the labeling requirements--exposed to claims of liability for damages caused by consumer misfueling. Retailers who store and sell EI5 using existing infrastructure (i.e., dispensers and tanks) could violate any number of federal, state and local statutes or regulations pertaining to equipment compatibility certification and local fire codes, not to mention tank insurance policies and stipulations contained in bank loans extended to petroleum retail facilities. Once EPA finalizes the proposed regulation, there will still be a substantial quantity of cars on the road that are prohibited from refueling with greater than E10 blends (vehicles that are model year 2000 and earlier). Currently, approximately 35% of cars on the road are model year 2000 and earlier. It is not in retailers' interest to refrain from selling products desirable to this segment of the market. Once El5 becomes legal for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles, it is far from certain that owners of such vehicles will choose to refuel with El5 rather than less than or equal to E10. Unlike prior fuel transitions (i.e., leaded to unleaded gasoline and low sulfur to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel), no vehicle is required to run on fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Consequently, demand for this product is purely subject to the voluntary decision-making process of individual consumers.

Click here to read the full letter.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a CSP member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content

Company News

When the C-Store Becomes the Destination

How some convenience retailers are positioning themselves as the place to be

Snacks & Candy

What Convenience-Store Consumers Are Craving in Candy, Snacks

Unwrapping the latest treats and trends from the Sweets & Snacks Expo


More from our partners