E15 clears final federal regulatory hurdle

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012

E15 is ready for sale in the United States in the eyes of U.S. EPA, ethanol trade groups today announced.

EPA has approved a plan submitted by the industry to address residual fuel that may be left in gas pumps that offer both E15, or gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, and other fuels. That step “knocks down the lone, significant regulatory hurdle standing in the way of getting E15 into the marketplace,” trade groups Growth Energy and Renewable Fuels Association said.

“The ethanol industry is grateful for the support from the White House and the numerous agencies involved in bringing this fuel to the marketplace,” the two groups said in a joint news release this afternoon. “Clearly this administration understands that ethanol plays a significant role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The ethanol industry three years ago filed a waiver with EPA to expand the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. Since then, EPA has approved two partial waivers that allow the fuel to be sold in cars from model years 2001 and newer and taken a series of steps to bring the fuel closer to the marketplace.

The oil industry, food groups and environmental groups have opposed the introduction of E15, but the ethanol industry says it has done its part and cleared every hurdle so far to bring the fuel to the marketplace.

“E15 has undergone the most vigorous testing and regulatory process of any fuel approved by the federal government,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “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.”

Today’s action specifically addresses the scenario of a gas station having a single pump to provide both E15 and other fuels like E10, and the concern that residual E15 could mean that customers wanting E10 may fill up a tank with gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol.

The Renewable Fuels Association said EPA has notified it that the industry’s guidance for retailers on selling E15 adequately addresses those concerns.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has been a strong supporter of E15, applauded the announcement.

“This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump,” Vilsack said. “The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy, and today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency advances that goal.”