The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15.
For over 30 years the law limited ethanol use to 10 percent by volume for use in gasoline-fueled vehicles. Registration of ethanol to make E15 is a significant step toward its production, sale, and use in model year 2001 and newer gasoline-fueled cars and light trucks, according to EPA.
American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President Charles Drevna issued a statement following the approval calling EPA’s announcement “unwise, premature and irresponsible….”
“EPA's hasty attempts to speed introduction of E15 before necessary testing is complete could endanger the safety of American consumers, threatening their vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment with possibly severe damage. This action is more about political science than real science because it is designed to protect the ethanol industry rather than the American people,” Drevna said.
Drevna cited information released by the Coordinating Research Council that shows failures when using E15 in vehicles approved by EPA. “With a lawsuit by AFPM and other organizations on this critical issue about to be heard, there is no reason for EPA to have rushed to judgment and acted so recklessly."
To enable widespread use of E15, the Obama Administration has set a goal to help fueling station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next five years. In addition, both through the Recovery Act and the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA have provided grants, loans and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels.
Officials of the ethanol industry were quick to praise EPA’s action. "Our nation needs E15 to reduce our dependence on foreign oil - it will keep gas prices down at the pump and help to end the extreme fluctuations in gas prices caused by our reliance on fuel from unstable parts of the world," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. "Today's announcement from EPA finally puts that goal within reach."
EPA decision clears a major hurdle in bringing E15 to the marketplace. “States in the Midwest have begun to address their regulatory requirements and perhaps as early as summer we could see E15 at fuel stations in the Heartland of America,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The future for consumers, ethanol producers and this country has just gotten a little brighter, a little stronger,"
Before E15 can be sold, manufactures must first take additional measures to help ensure retail stations and other gasoline distributors understand and implement labeling rules and other E15-related requirements. EPA is not requiring the use or sale of E15.
After extensive vehicle testing by DOE and other organizations, EPA issued two partial waivers raising the allowable ethanol volume to 15 percent for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.