RFA officials say E15 is within ‘weeks' of commercial distribution

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2012 -Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen and other RFA officials told reporters and stakeholders Monday that E15 (15%) ethanol blend gasoline is within weeks of commercial distribution.

“On the inexorable march to E15 [commercialization], we have made some progress,” Dinneen said in a conference call. “The job now is largely the industry's to make E15 a commercial reality and we are working hard to make sure that happens.”

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Kristy Moore, the RFA's vice president for technical services, said that with EPA's approval last week of a model misfueling mitigation plan designed by the RFA for E-15, marketers and other companies looking to sell E15 must register with EPA and submit their own mitigation plan, presumably adapted from the RFA plan, and address state regulations. She said EPA is expected to announce this week the first group of companies successfully registering with EPA.

The RFA officials also announced the availability of a handbook designed to provide fuel retailers with regulatory and technical guidance in order to legally store and sell E15 ethanol blends. The handbook provides sample checklists and questions that all potential E15 retailers should contemplate before moving forward with offering E15.

Moore said RFA staff is working with EPA to formulate a fuel survey required by the waiver granting the limited distribution of E15. The survey would consist of taking samples from E15 pumps and other pumps nearby to assure the validity of their blend.

EPA has already approved a warning label to go on pumps and help insure vehicle owners do not put E15 gasoline into anything other than vehicles and light trucks made in 2001 and later, as restricted under the partial waiver of the regulation that normally limits ethanol blends to 10% (E10). Moore said there are a number of states, including Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, who are prepared with regulations that are ready to cover E15 dispensing.

Robert White, RFA's director of market development, said there were a number of state organizations that offer grants and other financial assistance that will help retailers finance pump installation. For example, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council has established a program that awards selected fuel retailing stations grants of up to 50% or $20,000 (whichever is less) towards the purchase and installation of an ethanol flex fuel (blender) pump, hardware and storage tank, or for the conversion of an existing pump.

While RFA officials are optimistic, there is litigation pending under which petroleum refiners and seeking to turn back the E15 waiver. And some House Republicans introduced legislation to require a new study of the fuel blend's impact on engines by the National Academies of Science, despite three years of testing on thousands of vehicles by the DOE prior to the waiver's approval.


Original story printed in March 21, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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