EPA approves use of E15 ethanol in older vehicles

by Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.


WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol - known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy's thorough testing and other available data on E15's effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.  

“Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America's vehicles, this administration takes those steps."

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On October 13, 2010, EPA approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for MY 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. At that time, EPA denied a request to allow the use of E15 for MY 2000 and older vehicles and postponed its decision on the use of E15 in MY 2001 to 2006 cars and light trucks until DOE completed additional testing for those model years.

By using E10 in much of its fuel today, the United States has reduced its dependence on foreign oil by billions of gallons each year, notes the National Corn Growers Association. Increasing the blend level from E10 to E15 can avoid the importation of another 7 billion gallons of gasoline per year.

The Agency also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver.

These waivers represent one of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry before consumers will find E15 gasoline blends available. EPA is developing requirements to ensure that E15 is properly labeled at the gas pump. 

The nation's leading ethanol advocacy groups lauded the move.

“This is a bold move forward, changing America's energy future for the better,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy about the E15 decision. “Increased use of ethanol will strengthen our energy security, create U.S. jobs, and improve the environment by displacing conventional gasoline with a low-carbon fuel.”

Buis added that with engine and emissions systems testing on cars 2001 through 2010 complete - and showing no issues with using E15 as a fuel - EPA's approval of E15 should be extended to older vehicles to make continued progress in reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said: “Today's decision greenlights the use of E15 for nearly two out of every three cars on the road today and furthers proves ethanol is a safe, effective fuel choice for American drivers. EPA continues to move in the right direction with respect to increasing ethanol blends, but challenges still remain.  The RFA continues to urge EPA to extend the waiver for E15 use to all cars and pickups.”

Today's announcement will accelerate the timeframe in which most vehicles on American roads will be covered by the waiver.  However, given that not every vehicle on the road is being approved, labeling issues and misfueling concerns by gas station owners must still be addressed.  The RFA has suggested changes to EPA's proposed label for E15 (
http://www.ethanolrfa.org/exchange/entry/rfa-proposes-alternative-e15-label-to-epa/ ). 

Additionally, the RFA worked with gas station owners and gasoline marketers to get legislation introduced in the last Congress to address misfueling concerns (the Renewable Fuels Marketing Act).  The RFA will look for opportunities to reintroduce the legislation in the 112th Congress.

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