EPA approves E15 ethanol blend registrations

April 3, 2012 |

Agency approves first applications for registration of ethanol to make E15

In Washington, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15.

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 5 years. In addition, both through the Recovery Act and the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture have provided grants, loans and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels. 

Today’s action follows an extensive technical review required by law. Registration is a prerequisite to introducing E15 into the marketplace. Before it 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.

E15 is not permitted for use in motor vehicles built prior to 2001 model year and in off-road vehicles and equipment such as boats and lawn and garden equipment. Gas pumps dispensing E15 will be clearly labeled so consumers can make the right choice.

More information here.

Industry reaction

Jan Koninckx, director of biofuels programs, DuPont Industrial Biosciences

“DuPont commends EPA’s decision today to approve E15 as a registered fuel, adding to E10 and E85 which are already in broad use in the transportation fuel supply. At DuPont, our work in biofuels is focused on continually improving process technologies for the production of renewable fuels like ethanol and other advanced biofuels so we can drive down costs and enable growth in this sector and consumer choice at the pump.”

Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy

“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. Today’s announcement from EPA finally puts that goal within reach. This announcement strengthens the ethanol industry’s efforts to innovate and continue to deliver domestically-produced and affordable alternatives to foreign oil,” said Buis. “With ethanol selling an average of a dollar a gallon cheaper than gasoline and $4 a gallon gasoline on the horizon, we’d encourage all Americans to ask their local filling station how soon they will see more-affordable E15.”

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

“American consumers may soon have some much deserved relief at the pump.  Today’s EPA decision clears yet another 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 fuels stations in the Heartland of America.  The future for consumers, ethanol producers and this country has just gotten a little brighter, a little stronger.”

The Digest’s Take

A key step in a long journey, with uncertainty still ahead. Though a signal achievement in itself – it’s one thing to register a fuel – another to market it on a mass scale. Now, fuel retailers can take E15, but they have the choice to stick with E10. On the other hand, obligated blenders have less choice – they have their mandated corn ethanol targets, and they may find themselves reluctantly embracing E15 ethanol in order to satisfy their statutory obligations.

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