E15 one step closer toward sale in U.S.

Source: Amanda Peterka • E&E  • Posted: Monday, February 20, 2012

U.S. EPA today announced that the ethanol blend E15 has passed a key health test, moving the blend one step forward to legal distribution in the U.S. marketplace.

The finding by EPA comes just a week and a half after a House panel voted to delay the introduction of the blend, citing possible damage to car engines. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee voted to require a further 18-month study by the National Academy of Sciences before EPA could be allowed to register the fuel blend for use in vehicles.

Today’s announcement brings gas stations closer to being able to sell the fuel, composed of 15 percent ethanol, to passenger vehicles. EPA last year approved the fuel for use in car models from the last decade but has yet to complete final registration of the fuel, required under the Clean Air Act.

Ethanol trade group Growth Energy, which filed a petition in 2009 seeking federal approval of E15, praised EPA’s finding of no significant health effects.

“With ethanol selling an average of 76 cents a gallon cheaper than gasoline and $4 a gallon gasoline on the horizon,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, “we’d encourage all Americans to ask their local filling station how soon they will see more affordable E15.”

American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty stressed that E15 has already undergone extensive testing and said that it could be easily incorporated into existing fuel infrastructure.

“E15 has been tested and re-tested by EPA and DOE and is proven safe for cars and light trucks that were manufactured in 2001 and later,” Lamberty said.

Groups as varied as Friends of the Earth, the American Petroleum Institute and auto trade groups supported the measure introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) to require further study of the blend.

Friends of the Earth has opposed E15 on the basis that it would lead to the production of more corn ethanol, while others have cited damage to car engines.