FTC extends comment period on proposed ethanol labeling rule

By Erin Voegele | June 02, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission has extended the comment period for its proposed rule that would adopt and revise rating, certification and labeling requirements for ethanol-gasoline blends of higher than 10 percent ethanol.

The FTC first published its notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its Rule for Automotive Fuel Ratings, Certification and Posting in the Federal Register on April 4. The comment period on the proposed rule was set to end June 2. A notice posted by the FTC will extend that comment period for an additional month, through July 2. In the notice, the FTC notes that the extension is due to a request it received on May 20.

As previously reported by Ethanol Producer Magazine, the FTC initially proposed amendments governing ethanol blends to its Fuel Rating Rule in a 2010 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). In finalizing those amendments in 2011, the FTC deferred consideration of ethanol blend labeling to consider the EPA’s approval of E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles. In the recent proposal, the FTC said it is now proposing ethanol labeling amends that take into account comments received on the 2010 NPRM, EPA’s action on E15 and changes in an ASTM International specification regarding ethanol.

The proposed rulemaking would require ethanol blends, with the exception of E15, to be identified with orange labels that contain the message “use only in flex-fuel vehicles/may harm other engines.” The label would also be required to disclose the percentage of ethanol contained in the fuel, rounded off to the nearest interval of 10.

Regarding the decision not to include an octane rating on the requirement label, the FTC said that requiring octane ratings for ethanol blends might incorrectly suggest those blends are interchangeable with gasoline. “Not only would an octane rating not provide useful information to consumers, it might deceive them about the suitability of the fuel for their vehicles,” said the FTC in the rulemaking. “Ethanol blends have naturally occurring high octane levels. Conventional vehicle owners might misinterpret those blends' higher octane content as signifying that they are better for conventional gasoline engines.”

The rule also would allow an alternative octane rating method that uses infrared sensor technology to measure octane levels of gasoline.

Additional information on how to submit comments is available on the FTC website.