EPA approves plan to prevent E15 ‘misfueling’

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 19, 2012

U.S. EPA approved a plan submitted by a biofuels trade group aimed at ensuring the ethanol-gasoline blend E15 doesn’t get pumped into cars from model year 2000 or older.

Companies that manufacture E15 — a blend of 15 percent ethanol and gasoline — may use the “Misfueling Mitigation Plan,” or MMP, when registering with EPA to sell the fuel. EPA requires submission of a plan under Clean Air Act waivers it granted for E15 for new vehicles.

EPA told the Renewable Fuels Association yesterday its plan “would generally be sufficient” to meet the partial waivers’ requirements for an MMP.

The approval is one of a series of steps toward the legal distribution of E15 in the United States.

Last month, EPA announced that the fuel blend had passed a health test, allowing companies to begin registering to sell the blend (Greenwire, Feb. 17). According to the association, several ethanol producers have submitted registration documents to EPA.

The association, one of two ethanol trade groups to file an original petition to allow sales of E15, submitted its model mitigation plan to EPA on March 2.

The plan addresses concerns that owners of unapproved light-duty vehicles will fill up with E15. It says E15 producers must properly label pumps, document transport of the fuel blend and participate in a compliance survey.

The next steps in the introduction of E15 are ensuring companies are registered with EPA, have submitted the mitigation plan along with any other information EPA requires and have complied with state fuel requirements.

The association predicts drivers in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas will be among the first to be able to use E15.

A coalition of strange bedfellows — including the American Petroleum Institute, Friends of the Earth and auto trade groups — oppose the introduction of E15 into the marketplace. Auto groups cite possible damage to car engines, while Friends of the Earth opposes E15 on the grounds that it would lead to more production of corn ethanol.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, addressed the criticism in a statement yesterday.

“Gaining meaningful market penetration for E15 will not happen overnight,” Dinneen said. “It will take a constant and driven effort to educate consumers and fend off unfounded claims by anti-ethanol voices in the fuels industry and on Capitol Hill.”