EPA approves first registrations for E15

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

U.S. EPA approved the first applications today for registering ethanol for making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol, known as E15.

Among the 20 approved producers are major players in the ethanol industry: Abengoa Bioenergy Holding US Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc. and POET LLC’s Michigan venture.

The introduction of E15 is “critically important” for the ethanol industry, Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said last week. Because of the so-called blend wall — which allows only 10 percent ethanol to be blended in gasoline — ethanol manufacturers have produced too much of their product for the U.S. market.

“Our industry exported nearly a billion gallons last year. We’re prefer not to. We’d much rather have our product used here at home,” Jennings said.

Over the past year and a half, EPA has approved two partial waivers for E15 to be used in cars of model year 2001 or newer and a label to differentiate the blend from other fuels. Since January, the agency has moved rapidly on bringing E15 to the market, completing a study of the health effects of E15 and most recently approving a “misfueling mitigation plan” submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association (Greenwire, March 16).

Opponents of E15 have been worried about deleterious effects on car engines and the potential for vehicles not approved for E15 to fill up on the fuel. A broad coalition of strange bedfellows including the American Petroleum Institute and Friends of the Earth earlier this year called on Congress to pass a bill requiring further study of E15 before EPA’s final approval.

In a statement sent to E&ENews PM today, Friends of the Earth biofuels policy campaigner Michal Rosenoer called E15 a “lose-lose situation for everyone.

“Corn ethanol and clean energy just don’t mix. E15 means higher food prices, damaged engines and a more polluted world for our children,” Rosenoer said.