EPA rethinking 4-gallon purchase requirement

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012

U.S. EPA is rethinking a policy that would set a minimum purchase requirement of 4 gallons at gas station pumps that sell midlevel ethanol blends out of the same hose as other fuels.

According to the American Motorcyclist Association, the agency is now considering requiring a label at such pumps warning that the hose is solely for use in passenger cars and trucks. EPA has also proposed that the stations have at least one pump dedicated to gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol.

The agency informed the association of the proposed changes in a conference call and an email, according to an association spokesman. The proposal would apply at gas stations that sell midlevel ethanol blends, or those containing 10 and 15 percent ethanol, from the same gas pump.

Up until now, gas stations have commonly sold gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol, or E10. EPA recently approved E15 for sale in the United States through two partial Clean Air Act waivers for cars from model year 2001 and newer, but not for older cars, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and other small-engine vehicles.

The 4-gallon purchase requirement, part of a plan by the agency to stop unapproved vehicles from filling up with gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, came under fire by some auto organizations and conservative lawmakers earlier this year when EPA detailed it in a letter to the American Motorcyclist Association (E&E Daily, Sept. 11).

The requirement was intended to prevent vehicles with smaller fuel tanks, like motorcycles, from filling up with the higher 15 percent ethanol blend and risking damage to their engines.

In a statement to Greenwire yesterday, EPA said it “has been exploring options in response to concerns that have been raised” with the purchase requirement.

“While it is too soon to discuss any possible new approaches, EPA will continue to work with AMA, AAA [the motorist group] and other stakeholders to address their concerns,” the agency said.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), a vocal opponent of E15 who has raised concerns that the fuel would damage car engines, yesterday said he was “encouraged” to hear EPA was reconsidering its policy.

“The EPA has no business telling Americans how much gas they have to buy,” he said in a statement.