The EPA has announced E15 blends (15% ethanol/85% gasoline) to be safe for use in all cars and pickups built from 2001 on. This decision builds upon an October 2010 EPA decision that limited E15 use to just 2007 and newer vehicles. With 2001 and newer cars and pickups included, EPA has approved the use of E15 for 62% of vehicles on the road today according to car industry data. If E15 were used in all vehicles covered by this decision, the theoretical blend wall for ethanol use would be approximately 17.5 billion gallons.
“Today’s decision greenlights the use of E15 for nearly two out of every three cars on the road today and further proves ethanol is a safe, effective fuel choice for American drivers,” says Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen. “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. 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. As with any new fuel, additional testing and some regulatory issues relating to the fuel’s properties must be addressed before widespread E15 use can occur. The RFA is working to address those issues and accelerate the commercial use of E15.
“EPA’s decision today is a sound one, but it doesn’t address the issues that still remain regarding a segmented market place and the introduction of a new fuel,” says Dinneen. “The RFA will continue to work with EPA and other regulatory bodies to expand ethanol use beyond even 15%. Simultaneously, we will continue our dialogue with lawmakers to develop and implement sound policies that provide the proper incentives to grow ethanol use across a variety of blending levels.”